Town Square

Post a New Topic

Menlo Park council split over new privacy law

Original post made on May 14, 2014

In a rare 3-2 vote for the current Menlo Park council, a new ordinance governing the use of surveillance data by law enforcement took the first step towards implementation last night, despite the police department's opposition.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, May 14, 2014, 10:51 AM

Comments (14)

Posted by trust, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 14, 2014 at 12:33 pm

As Mayor Mueller pointed out, there is always one bad apple in every organization. We trust the police will follow their existing policies, which include being unable to fire bad cops that are arrested while naked and on duty in hotel rooms with hoockers that are being busted for selling drugs. When the department is unable to fire a cop like that, the residents need strick laws so that these bad cops will get a time-out in county jail before being returned to active duty. If cops break the ordinance, it is unclear anyone will ever know about it because they have confidential binding arbitration in their contract.


Posted by bad apples, a resident of another community
on May 14, 2014 at 12:42 pm

Mountain View cop arrested on suspicion of child porn possession, sale Web Link


Posted by Steve Taffee, a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on May 14, 2014 at 1:36 pm

I agree with the caution exercised by the Menlo Park City Council's action regarding a privacy ordinance and license plate readers. It is prudent to be vary cautious about such new technologies. One can loosen regulations later if needed. It's much harder to go the other way.


Posted by old timer, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 14, 2014 at 2:44 pm

Our former State Senator Joe Simitian was an outstanding leader in protection of our privacy rights. He introduced SB-1330:

Web Link

asking data not be kept for more than 60 days.

which unfortunately did not pass into law.

Don't let our Police department take away our privacy.


Posted by SteveC, a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on May 14, 2014 at 2:48 pm

SteveC is a registered user.

Mt. View arrest is for a FELONY, and could be a federal case depending where the photos came from and age of victim. Hardly the same discussion on the web.


Posted by RokOnPolice, a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on May 14, 2014 at 5:10 pm

I mean, what could possibly be wrong with plate readers?
Web Link


Posted by Sunshine Sam, a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on May 14, 2014 at 5:33 pm

The public records act requires municipalities to keep video recordings for TWO YEARS. Where do these people get off thumbing their noses as California Law and shortening the time to 90 days??


Posted by Party Politics, a resident of Menlo Park: Linfield Oaks
on May 14, 2014 at 5:33 pm

Anyone else notice the 3-2 vote went along party lines. The Democrats voted for the ordinance and the Republicans voted against it.


Posted by Thumbing their noses, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 14, 2014 at 9:23 pm

Sunshine, the ALPR data is not covered or protected under the FOIA.

Regarding Party Politics, even though Democratic leaders like San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed have been standing up to the police union and pushing for pension reform, there is no indication that pro-union elected Republican leaders like Redwood City Mayor Jeff Gee (whom Ohtaki endorsed) are acting along party lines when they push for the union agenda.


Posted by Sunshine Sam, a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on May 15, 2014 at 5:33 am

@Thumb -

34090 of the CA Government Code says 2 years for every public record, unless specifically stated otherwise by statute. It does not call out ALPR records one way or the other for a longer or shorter retention schedule.

In my view, ALPR data is a record generated by the Government. It is indeed subject to the PRA. Whether one can successfully obtain that data through a PRA request is a matter completely separate from whether the Government must retain it the period defined in the law.

My original post was about VIDEO surveillance, something also considered in this ill-conceived ordinance. The retention of that material can be reduced to 1 year through a council resolution.

I question why the Menlo Park Council thinks it can reduce the retention period of any of this data to a period less than proscribed by state law.


Posted by PRA, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 15, 2014 at 9:22 am



The Menlo Park City Attorney Bill McClure worked with the subcommittee and actually drafted the ordinance. The Police Department wrote the transmittal that went to City Council. Neither raised any objection related to the Public Records Act at the City Council meeting.


Posted by please use that LPR data, a resident of Menlo Park: other
on May 15, 2014 at 10:24 am

One possibility is that Vasquez is the only officer to ever use a hooker while on duty, and he was busted during his first and only visit to a hooker. If not, I hope the Chief will use the LPR data to identify and bust all our officers that are regularly using hookers while on duty.


Posted by Wayne Martin, a resident of another community
on May 15, 2014 at 11:52 am

I am happy to see Menlo Park vote create such an ordinance. However, there are a few issues I'd like to suggest that ought to be ironed out, however.

For instance--

1) If the MP Police are not actually holding the data, which is held by another agency--this ordiance doesn't apply to them directly, does it?

2) If the Northern California Regional Intelligence Center fails, in any way, to protect this data, or to comply with MP instructions about its storage--who is responsible?

2) Images generally are collected on a daily basis. So, they would need to be deleted ninety-days hence. This could be done by the computer, without human intervention; however, if human intervention is required, then some deletions might take longer than 90 days. How should these overruns be handled?

3) How long should the MP Police Chief have to hold the requests for access to any images from other agencies? Will the requests from outside agencies themselves become public records--which can be readily provided to the public upon request (and in eForm)?

4) Will there be a threshold of need established by the MP Police Chief that might restrict some casual requests (fishing expeditions) by other law enforcement agencies?

Has anyone seen anything in writing from MP on this topic?


Posted by Michael G. Stogner, a resident of another community
on May 17, 2014 at 8:04 pm

Who are they, talent and training for a safer society? Who has oversight?

Web Link


If you were a member and logged in you could track comments from this story.

Post a comment

Posting an item on Town Square is simple and requires no registration. Just complete this form and hit "submit" and your topic will appear online. Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

We prefer that you use your real name, but you may use any "member" name you wish.

Name: *

Select your neighborhood or school community: * Not sure?

Comment: *

Verification code: *
Enter the verification code exactly as shown, using capital and lowercase letters, in the multi-colored box.

*Required Fields

Handmade truffle shop now open in downtown Palo Alto
By Elena Kadvany | 3 comments | 2,268 views

Breastfeeding Tips
By Jessica T | 4 comments | 739 views

Weekly Update
By Cheryl Bac | 0 comments | 702 views

A Street Fair by Any Other Name
By Paul Bendix | 3 comments | 638 views

Separate Entrances for BMR and Market Rate Apartments?
By Stuart Soffer | 0 comments | 382 views