Civil rights groups sued the Los Angeles Police Department and the Sheriff's Department today over both agencies' alleged failure to produce records related to the use of automatic license plate readers.
According to the lawsuit filed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California, the LAPD and the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department refuse to provide requested information on policy and training, as well as a week's worth of ALPR data collected by the agencies last year.
Mounted on squad cars and telephone poles, the camera systems read license plates and record the time, date, and location a particular car was encountered.
The plaintiffs allege they filed requests under the California Public Records Act for the documents, but while the departments produced some materials, they failed to give up materials related to the sharing of information with other agencies.
Neither agency has produced data collected during the one-week period, according to the complaint filed in Los Angeles Superior Court.
Neither law enforcement agency immediately released a response to the suit.
"Location-based information like license plate data can be very revealing," said Jennifer Lynch, an EFF staff attorney.
"By matching your car to a particular time, date, and location -- and building a database of that information over time -- law enforcement can learn where you work and live, what doctor you go to, which religious services you attend and who your friends are," she said. "The public needs access to data the police actually have collected to be able to make informed decisions about how ALPR systems can and can't be used."