Big Brother Comes to Simi Valley, Raising Privacy Concerns

The city of Simi Valley has nearly completed its deployment of 23 automated license plate readers that began monitoring in November of last year. The Simi Valley Police Department will be hosting a forum at 6 pm on Thursday, January 25th, at City Hall to help residents understand what the technology can and can’t do.

Supporters of the new system hope that the new system will boost public safety by helping authorities catch suspected lawbreakers. However, critics fear that this is a step too far and yet another attempt by the government to invade citizens’ privacy.

Cameras powered by solar energy, positioned at key intersections such as entry and exit points, will photograph license plates of passing vehicles. Authorities claim that the technology employed does not utilize facial recognition, isn't linked to personally identifiable information, and will not be utilized for traffic enforcement.

In May 2023, the City Council unanimously approved a contract with Flock Group Inc. (Flock Safety) to acquire 23 license plate readers capable of identifying vehicles associated with crimes as they traverse the city.

Utilizing Flock's network of approximately 1,300 cameras managed by various agencies across California, SVPD claims that this system will enhance its capacity to "identify accurate and objective leads, evaluate crime hotspots, and not only resolve but also prevent crime in the community," as outlined in a city staff report from May 2023. As of the latest data from 2022, Police in Ventura County only solve approximately 12.5% of Property Crimes.

Many cities, including Calabasas, Agoura Hills and Thousand Oaks, are currently using the license plate reader technology.

By participating in the January 25th forum, residents can “engage in the ongoing conversation about community safety and contribute to making Simi Valley a safer place for everyone,” SVPD said.

There will also be a Q&A session and attendees will be able to submit questions for discussion.

Those who can’t attend the January 25th forum in person can view the presentation live on the city’s website and YouTube channel.

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Robert Fuller


Robert was born and raised right here in Ventura County. He is a retired engineer and spends his days dabbling in landscape photography and flying drones. Robert also enjoys the occasional round of golf. View Profile

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