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Mission District residents welcome San Francisco police push for license plate readers

Some in San Francisco's Mission hopeful license plate readers will discourage crime
Some in San Francisco's Mission hopeful license plate readers will discourage crime 02:59

The plan to install about 400 automated license plate readers at 100 intersections in San Francisco cleared a hurdle Monday night and now just needs approval from the full Board of Supervisors, which could come as early next month.

Mayor London Breed and the San Francisco Police Department have both been pushing to fast-track the installation since earlier this month.

Zian Garcia, who manages popular Mission District bakery Bris Creations, faces daily struggles with crime.

"Sometimes I'm working here, and some random person comes in [who] at first, we thought were customers, but instead caused problems," explained Garcia. "I've had some people who would tell me that it happens often to them. Like their cars broken into, glass everywhere." 

The anticipated plan involves the installation of readers at 100 intersections across San Francisco by the San Francisco Police Department. City officials want to use part of the $17.3 million state grant received to fight retail theft to go towards the installation, but awaits approval from the Board of Supervisors.

Police Chief Bill Scott expressed optimism about the potential impact of these automated license plate readers in combating various crimes. He emphasized their utility in identifying vehicles and suspects involved in persistent crimes like retail theft, auto burglaries, vehicle theft, and catalytic converter theft.

Monday night, Chief Scott appealed to the Board of Supervisors Rules Committee, urging swift approval to modify city policies. These changes would allow the purchase of cameras from different vendors and diversification of funding sources beyond the city's general fund.

However, not all are in favor of this initiative. The American Civil Liberties Union raised concerns about the widespread use of automated plate readers, fearing disproportionate impacts on minority communities. Chief Scott clarified that the technology would not target individuals with minor infractions or unpaid parking tickets.

Garcia said he wasn't concerned about potential violations of privacy.

"I don't think it's a violation. People who are afraid of the law usually break the law constantly," asserted Garcia, reflecting a different perspective on the implementation of the technology.

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