OAKLAND (KPIX 5) – BART’s board of directors has approved a preliminary plan to install license plate readers at station parking lots.

The move comes with new rules to appease privacy advocates concerned about surveillance.

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The plan aims to help police catch criminals in violent crimes, car break-ins and thefts.

“It would put criminals on notice that they come into our lots, their vehicles are identified,” Mimi Bolaffi, Manager of Rail Security said.

But, some people don’t trust the surveillance program.

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“You are about to embark on a system of real-time, mass surveillance,” J.P. Massar said at the BART board meeting.

There are concerns after a high profile incident last year when BART was accused of sharing information with federal immigration agents. More than 57,000 photos of license plates were taken from surveillance cameras inside MacArthur station, and BART admitted that some of that information was inadvertently sent to a law enforcement database called the Northern California Regional Intelligence Center, but says it was not shared with ICE.

The new policy only allows BART to store photos and plate information for 30 days unless the data is part of an ongoing investigation. It also has new limits on sharing the data with third parties.
Supporters say it’s an important tool to make BART stations safer.

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The pilot program will place four cameras at a single station, then BART will review the statistics on crime there before they expand the program.