Dear Vigilant Solutions Customer,
We know you are experiencing an onslaught of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) and Public Records Act (PRA) requests from the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and MuckRock regarding your use of our license plate reader (LPR) technology. We write this letter to let you know, quite simply, we support you and are here for you.
We know why you use LPR technology: It has a proven track record of helping to solve crimes and saving lives. We are proud of the technology we have built, and we are honored you use our solution. We also realize we are on an island when it comes to these recent attacks from EFF and MuckRock, because our services stand out as the best and most effective on the market.
The 9/11 Commission called on law enforcement across the United States to collaborate by sharing investigative information and data. The Commission said a “network-based information-sharing system that transcends traditional governmental boundaries” was essential to effecting change.
As you know, we rose to that challenge, and built a true nationwide sharing platform that allows agencies to share data in real time, improving the safety of your community and your department. While this has led EFF and MuckRock to target our company and your agency, we firmly stand behind our mission to provide the best image analysis services available, so law enforcement can solve crimes and identify suspects quickly and efficiently.
EFF and MuckRock have consistently ignored the fact that, every day, we are blessed to receive numerous emails sharing success stories: an abducted child recovered, a murder suspect apprehended four states away, an abducted woman rescued while drugged and helpless, a domestic terrorist located in the next state after igniting a failed pipe bomb, and an elderly woman found driving in her vehicle, lost and confused – to name only a few out of the tens of thousands of success stories.
The EFF has noted that California agencies are sharing with the U.S. Forest Service, universities on the East Coast, and airports in Tennessee. EFF is apparently unaware that criminals travel across state lines. Perhaps these writers have not read the countless stories about crimes committed on college campuses, at airports and even in National Parks. We have drug interdiction customers among you who have identified vehicles traveling from Texas to Baltimore, San Diego to Michigan. One of you solved an abduction case and recovered a child who was taken from California and found in Memphis, Tennessee.
License plate reader technology not only helps keep your communities safe, but it also gives you a greater level of situational awareness. Real-time alerts for a license plate of interest on stolen vehicles, wanted felons, and outstanding warrants allow law enforcement to take immediate action. And these alerts are triggered based on a sequence of letters and/or numbers captured on a hot list, not on race, age or gender.
What’s more, when one of your patrol officers pulls over a vehicle for a moving violation, our license plate database could help determine if the vehicle’s registered owner is wanted for armed robbery and possibly carrying a handgun. We have lost 19 law enforcement officers since the beginning of 2018. Now, more than ever, your officers need every tool available to help ensure their safety as they go forth each day and risk their lives to protect others.
Vigilant Solutions has always taken the position of balancing the safety of officers and citizens with privacy. We built a sharing platform that provides complete transparency to agencies. It also allows agencies to select their own data retention settings to comply with their agency policies. We employ a fulltime Director of Information Security and Compliance who helps ensure Vigilant meets FBI-CJIS compliance standards and works with our partner agencies to develop and execute the necessary policies to meet stringent compliance requirements.
Additionally, court rulings in Nevada and Kentucky within the past two weeks have upheld the obvious – LPR technology does not violate an individual’s privacy. The law requires that license plates be displayed on vehicles operating on public streets, and time after time judges have ruled this means there can be no expectation of privacy when it comes to this data.
The real impetus behind this campaign is so EFF and MuckRock can capitalize on the most well-known emotional trigger for fundraising: Fear. Their aim is to paint a false picture of sharing LPR data by leading their readers to believe it is reckless, unrestricted and used to track individuals. In short, they are attempting to scare individuals into hitting one of the countless “Contribute” and “Donate” buttons on their website.
The mission of Vigilant Solutions is to support federal, state and local law enforcement in their efforts to make communities safer. We will continue to do this unapologetically across the United States. If there is anything we can do to assist you, or if questions arise from your communities, your civic leaders or your department, please let us know and we will provide that support.
Be Safe. Be Smart. Be Strong. Be Vigilant.