Watch CBS News

Despite success, law enforcement cameras and license plate readers incite debate in Beverly Hills

Series of cameras, license plate readers in Beverly Hills draw criticism from some locals
Series of cameras, license plate readers in Beverly Hills draw criticism from some locals 02:40

A series of cameras and license plate readers placed throughout Beverly Hills has incited some debate amongst community members, despite their use in solving a number of prolific crimes in recent years. 

The system, which is called the Real Time Watch Center, includes around 2,400 cameras throughout the city, as well as 50 license plate readers that are placed in "strategic locations,"according to Beverly Hills Police Chief Mark Stainbrook. 

On top of the cameras, officers use a drone to monitor the city from above, all of which they attribute to their ability to make an arrest in a murder case from San Dimas on Thursday after the suspect drove into the city. 

Officers also used the system to make arrests in the murder of Jacqueline Avant in 2021 and in locating a number of smash-and-grab robbery suspects that hit a Home Depot in Lakewood

The Real Time Crime Centers Association says that this is just one of the 300 police departments across the country that sport the technology. 

Los Angeles Police Department Information Technology Bureau Deputy Chief John McMahon says that he's working on getting hiw department access to the same product. 

"I'm going to do everything I can to build community support to get us where we need to be," McMahon said, noting that he's currently working on a proposal to present the idea to the LA Police Commission. "To address not just violent crime, but overall crime is very impressive and quite honestly envious."

Despite some of the recent success, the technology does not come without its critics. 

The American Civil Liberties Union, better known as ACLU, says that the "use of license plate readers not only infringes on our right to go about out lives without the government monitoring our every move, but the invasive tech has led to an indefensible number of erroneous stops that put commuters at risk."

Stainbrook says that the technology can be so precise that it actually leads them to making fewer stops. The cameras can send images of a suspect's car directly to officer's phones, giving them much more to work with than a vague description.

"Allows us to do precision policing and actually arrest the right people," he said. 

He said that new funding will also allow the department to double the amount of cameras and license plate readers already in place throughout Beverly Hills in coming months. 

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.