In response to increased crime, Piedmont is taking a serious look at installing license plate readers on poles at all city entrances and exits, City Administrator Geoffrey Grote said Thursday.
Police Chief Rikki Goede previously said, in a report on crime-fighting measures prepared for the Feb. 4 City Council meeting, that her department has "met with a vendor that provides license plate reader/video surveillance services and is waiting for a final cost estimate from the vendor to report to Council."
Grote told Patch the vendor is analyzing placement of license plate readers on poles, including possible locations and the number of cameras that would be required, and that he expects to have results very soon. He will then present the results along with cost estimates to the council, he said.
"No decisions have been made," he said.
He noted that the city already has one license plate reader, a mobile unit for a police vehicle purchased last year.
"We've had some very serious issues with crime, which reached a crisis point when we had two home-invasion robberies on the same day (on Jan. 21)," he said. The city, like other parts of the East Bay, has also suffered "a real uptick" in burglaries of unoccupied homes and parked cars, he said.
He said that the city is looking at license plate readers, as opposed to cameras that take photos of drivers, in part because the former is connected to a database that can alert police to stolen cars or vehicles belonging to those with outstanding warrants.
The challenges of installing a system include not only the cost and effective placement but also having a supply of electricity to operate the cameras, he said.
He stressed that the study of adding fixed license plate readers at all entrances and exits to Piedmont is part of a larger package of measures being considered or implemented. He noted that the city has increased patrols and hired a contract investigator.
"This (possible acquisition of license plate readers) is just one element in an ongoing program," he said. "But we think it's an element that has potential in the longer term."