Operator of Orange County malls Fashion Island – Irvine Spectrum – Tustin and Irvine Market Place says it shares license plate data with local police, but not ICE

A major Orange County land developer that owns three shopping centers equipped with cameras that read license plates said Wednesday it does not share information about vehicles captured in the recordings with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Irvine Co. said the data collected by a contractor are “only shared with local police departments as part of their efforts to keep the local community safe.”

Those shopping centers include Fashion Island in Newport Beach, the Irvine Spectrum Center in Irvine and the Market Place on the border of Tustin and Irvine.

Both the Irvine and Newport Beach police departments said Wednesday that their respective agencies don’t share that data with ICE. Tustin police did not immediately respond to a call for comment.

The statements came after a report published Tuesday by the Electronic Frontier Foundation raised privacy concerns about how the data are used.

According to Irvine Co., the readers record license plate numbers as well as the location, date and time the information is collected. Encrypted information is then sent to a searchable database operated by Vigilant Solutions, a Livermore, Calif., business that collects information from license plate readers for law enforcement and private entities.

In Irvine, the technology would notify police when there’s a hit on cars that have been reported stolen or are associated with a wanted suspect, Irvine police spokeswoman Kim Mohr said.

“It’s like having extra patrol officers, in a way, because it’s the eyes out there,” Mohr said, adding that police cars are also outfitted with the technology.

In Newport Beach, investigators can search the Irvine Co. database as part of active criminal investigations or patrol operations, but they haven’t actually ever used the tool in that way, Newport Beach police spokeswoman Jennifer Manzella said.

“It’s not a database that we can just peruse at will,” Manzella said. “We have to be able to document who is querying it and why it’s being queried.”

Though Irvine Co. says it does not sell its information or share it with ICE, immigration authorities do have access to data collected from license plate readers elsewhere by commercial third parties and sold to Vigilant Solutions, according to the Northern California firm. In some cases, Vigilant Solutions owns the cameras the third parties use.

Vigilant spokeswoman Mary Alice Johnson declined to identify those third parties but said some include repossession companies whose trucks are outfitted with license plate readers. None of the third parties are law enforcement agencies, she said.

ICE is among at least 1,000 law enforcement agencies across the country that pay for access to the database — and it’s up to those agencies to set policies on how to use the information, Johnson said.

In a statement, ICE said that it uses information as a tool in criminal and civil immigration enforcement investigations and must comply with its own privacy rules.

“ICE is not seeking to build a license plate reader database, and will not collect nor contribute any data to a national public or private database,” the agency said. Its rules, ICE said, “are the most stringent requirements known to have been applied for the use of this technology.”

The American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Northern California is suing for records about ICE’s use of the technology, including contracts with the private companies operating the databases, training material, privacy policies and other documents.

“Aggregation of this information into databases containing billions of license plate scans stretching back months and even years threatens core civil rights and liberties protected by the Constitution,” the ACLU of Northern California said on its website.

Times staff writer Cindy Carcamo contributed to this report.

http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-irvine-company-license-plates-20180711-story.html

Tustin officer gave man less than a second to raise his hands before fatally shooting him, court says in ruling – Officer Osvaldo Villarreal couldn’t reasonably have feared for his safety when he shot 31-year-old Benny Herrera

Tustin, California

Tustin officer gave man less than a second to raise his hands before fatally shooting him, court says in ruling

A Southern California police officer gave a man less than a second to raise his hands before opening fire and killing him, a federal appeals court noted Friday in rejecting the officer’s request to dismiss a wrongful death lawsuit against him.

The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco said Tustin Police Officer Osvaldo Villarreal couldn’t reasonably have feared for his safety when he shot 31-year-old Benny Herrera after responding to a domestic dispute call in December 2011.

That determination ran counter to the Orange County district attorney’s office, which said in 2013 that the shooting was reasonable and justified because Villarreal fired after Herrera ignored orders to show his hands.

A video captured by a police dashboard camera shows otherwise, according to the 9th Circuit judges who cited the footage.

“Less than a second elapsed between Villarreal commanding Herrera to take his hand from his pocket and Villarreal shooting him,” the court wrote. “Just as Herrera’s hand came out of his pocket, Villarreal fired two shots in rapid succession … The command and the shots were almost simultaneous.”

The video has not been made public and is under a court seal.

The seven-page review of the case by Orange County prosecutors does not mention the existence of a video and appears to rely heavily on Villarreal’s own statements.

Sonia Balleste, the senior deputy district attorney who wrote the review, said Friday that she didn’t immediately recall the case or why the review didn’t mention the video but that she was sure she “looked at all the evidence that was available.”

“As a general practice it wasn’t my custom and habit to write down everything I looked at,” she said, adding that her office has since changed how such reviews are written to include more information.

Attorneys for Herrera’s parents and four children, all under 7 years old, filed a civil lawsuit against Villarreal and Tustin in 2012. Friday’s ruling allows that lawsuit to move forward to trial and upholds a lower court’s order declining to toss it out.

Tustin City Atty. David Kendig, speaking on behalf of Villarreal and the city, noted that the 9th Circuit was looking at the case in the light most favorable to Herrera’s family.

He said the city provided the district attorney’s office with video of the shooting but didn’t know why it didn’t make it into their review of the case.

Dale Galipo, who represents Herrera’s family, criticized the district attorney’s review as a “farce.”

“Are they not getting all the information from the agency? Did they not get the video, or are they just ignoring facts that support that the shooting was excessive?” Galipo said. “The whole process is flawed. It really is a joke.”

http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-tustin-shooting-20160917-snap-story.html

Whole Foods drops security firm after California store attack on Shopper

Oakland, California –

Whole Foods Market says it has cut ties entirely with the security firm that had been patrolling an Oakland store where a security guard allegedly beat a customer unconscious.

Company spokeswoman Beth Krauss tells the Oakland Tribune (http://bayareane.ws/1M2teIP) the store’s new security firm will be Concord-based A.G.S. Private Security.

Admiral Security Services, Inc., also based in Concord, had been providing security to the store near Lake Merritt until Saturday.

Oakland Police are investigating the alleged assault, which occurred Thursday inside the Oakland store.

A witness told the Tribune that she watched a verbal dispute between a cashier and the customer turn violent when the security guard arrived.

The witness says the guard slammed the shopper against a concrete pillar outside the store and placed him in a chokehold until he passed out.

http://www.ocregister.com/articles/security-681231-store-oakland.html