Q: Why doesn’t the Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department have camera pods in places that are trouble spots like the Sacramento Police Department has?
Brian, Rio Linda
A: Since September 2014, the Sacramento Police Department has installed small boxes containing cameras and marked with flashing blue lights on poles at certain intersections in the city.
Known as Police Observation Devices, or PODs, the cameras capture license-plate numbers of vehicles passing through the intersection. They can alert police if a stolen vehicle traverses the location or show the direction in which a suspect is headed. Sacramento police often post on social media notices of people arrested and vehicles recovered with aid of the devices.
The Sacramento County Sheriff’s Department has equipped some of its vehicles with license-plate-reading cameras. These devices alert officers if the car in the next lane was reported stolen, or if it is owned by a parolee, a sex offender or someone who hasn’t paid a fine.
Sheriff’s spokesman Sgt. Tony Turnbull said, “The Sheriff’s Department sees great value with using Automated License Plate Readers. As this is still a newer program within the Sheriff’s Department, we have yet to define an operational paradigm which supports the use of fixed devices. The sheriff continually evaluates all technology capabilities, but only approves those products which demonstrate a clear tipping point between criminal investigations and personal privacy.”