San Francisco’s new public safety camera technology delivering early results

First 100 automated license plate readers installed by SFPD already leading to arrests

SAN FRANCISCO – Mayor London N. Breed on Wednesday, June 12 announced new automated license plate reader cameras being installed across San Francisco are already leading to results, with arrests for crimes including organized retail theft, carjacking, robbery, and sexual assault. These arrests are helping San Francisco to sustain its reductions in crime, with property crime down 33% and violent crime down 13% compared to last year.

The San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) and its contracted vendor have now installed 100 of the 400 planned automated license plate reader (ALPR) cameras. The remaining 300 cameras are on track to be up and fully operational by July. The ALPRs are funded by a $17.3 million grant from the state’s Organized Retail Theft Grant Program. The city has contracted with Flock Safety to install and maintain the 400 cameras.

With the first 100 cameras installed, the new ALPR system is already delivering significant results, leading to arrests for various crimes in San Francisco and also helping jurisdictions locate those who commit crimes in other cities, including for:

  • Organized Retail Theft: On May13, a woman on a no-bail warrant for Organized Retail Theft was picked up on an ALPR camera in the Mission District. Officers from Mission Station located the vehicle and arrested both occupants.
  • Carjacking: On May 3, we identified a vehicle involved in a carjacking at SF State. Our citywide plainclothes team spotted the vehicle, deployed spike strips and arrested three suspects.
  • Robbery: On May 13, a vehicle used in a robbery entered San Francisco from Oakland and was captured on multiple ALPR cameras. Officers located the vehicle in the Bayview and took the driver into custody.
  • Sexual Assault: On June 8, San Jose Police contacted law enforcement agencies across the region for assistance locating a sexual assault suspect. The suspect’s vehicle was picked up by ALPR cameras in the Taraval Police District, and officers located the vehicle near Golden Gate Park and took the suspect into custody.

“This new technology is just one new tool we are using that is helping us make San Francisco safer for all and it is delivering results,” said Mayor Breed. “This shows the impact that technology can have in assisting our officers in doing their work and is sending an important message to those who think they can come to our city and commit crimes.”

“These cameras have been a massive help to our police department,” said Chief Bill Scott. “I want to thank our officers for their outstanding work. Looking forward, we will be integrating our ALPR network with our other technologies, including technologies voters approved in March under Proposition E, like drones and public safety cameras.”

Technology as a tool to advance public safety

ALPRs are only one of the new technology tools that Mayor Breed and the San Francisco Police Department are working to deploy to advance public safety. As part of the implementation of Prop E, which was approved by the voters in March 2024, SFPD is now authorized to use drones and publicly owned public safety cameras in their work. While these ALPR cameras were already approved for use prior to Prop E, they demonstrate the effectiveness of using technology to support the work of law enforcement.

Mayor Breed’s proposed budget, which is currently before the Board of Supervisors Budget committee for review, includes $3.7 million to implement voter-approved technology. With this new funding, SFPD can expand on its plans to install public safety cameras and use of drones. Currently the Board of Supervisors is reviewing the mayor’s proposed budget, during which time they can vote to make changes. The budget must be finalized, including being signed by the mayor, by August 1st.

Crime numbers continue improvement

San Francisco continues to see improved year over year crime numbers in 2024 across both property crime and violent crime. This includes through the end of May compared to the same period in 2024:

  • 13% reduction in violent crime overall
  • 38% reduction in homicides
  • 18% reduction in robberies
  • 8 % reduction in assaults
  • 33% reduction in property crime overall
  • 18% reduction in burglaries
  • 19% reduction in motor vehicle thefts
  • 51% reduction in car break-ins. (SF Mayor’s Office Release)

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