BY D’ARCY PATRICK EGAN
The Port Clinton Police Department has a new tool for fighting crime in the city, with the cutting-edge Flock license plate cameras now in place and giving the city the ability to spot stolen or hijacked vehicles and to help stop or reduce crime.
“The Flock Safety automated license plate reading (ALPR) cameras send real-time alerts to law enforcement when a stolen car, or a suspect in a state or national crime database, is detected on one of our seven cameras,” said Chief David M. Scott of the
Port Clinton Police Department. “The technology has already been proven successful in stopping crime, especially in larger neighborhoods and housing developments. It helps our police department to work with other law enforcement, as well.”
Chief Scott pointed out that the ALPR cameras can identify stolen cars, or if they have reports that people in a vehicle are suspects in a crime elsewhere.
“The cameras automatically capture license plate numbers, and the color, make, model and other identifying markings of the vehicle, such as a bright red bumper sticker or a broken window or taillight,” he said. “But the cameras don’t identify people or their faces. Each search of a vehicle requires justification, and the camera data is never sold or shared with third parties.”
Port Clinton, a city of slightly more than 6,000, recently contracted with the Atlanta, Ga.-based Flock Safety, which went into business in 2017, and pays an annual rate of $2,500 for each solar-powered camera. Toledo has already added some of the cameras. Akron has 28 cameras placed in problem and high traffic areas and plans to utilize 100 more of them in the future.
“It is our mission to enhance safety in the Port Clinton community, and reduce the fear of crime,” said Chief Scott. “We’re slowly adding high-tech equipment in our vehicles to help us do that, and relying on such high-tech surveillance equipment such as drones. Four of our officers have gone through a lengthy certification to use drones in police work, complete with infra-red cameras. The drones helped us to recently arrest a person that ran from officers after his car was stopped near Camp Perry.”
According to Flock ALPR, the company already works with more than 2,000 police departments around the country, and reports that crime in those communities has been reduced by up to 70%. Port Clinton has followed the general plan of installing the cameras in heavily trafficked areas and places where vehicles have quick access to roads leading in and out of local communities.
“With our ability to communicate with our officers, as well as with county and state law enforcement, if a stolen vehicle enters our city we’ll have the ability to know about it in a matter of seconds,” said Chief Scott. “Flock cameras provide another layer of security for our residents, and the many thousands of people who visit our beautiful city every year.”