Chiefs call new license plate readers a “game-changer” in solving crime

by Sara Hill

New video surveillance technology is coming to Brecksville that will give police a leg up in solving serious crimes faster and more efficiently.  

License plate reader cameras, designed by Flock Safety, an Atlanta-based company of public safety operating systems, will soon be installed at various points throughout the community. Members of Brecksville City Council recently authorized the yearly lease of 12 cameras at a cost of $2,500 per camera, said Brecksville Police Chief Stan Korinek.

Flock Safety license plate reader cameras, the “first camera that sees like a detective,” are not intended for routine traffic stops, but for solving serious crimes like tracking wanted felons, stolen vehicles and locating endangered and/or missing persons.

When a suspect commits a crime, it’s highly likely he or she will traverse through multiple cities as they make their escape. The cameras take photos as vehicles drive by and capture critical details including all license plate information, car make, color, type, and any unique vehicle details like bumper stickers and decals. All generated data is owned and managed by the individual police department, not Flock Safety, and can be shared with neighboring law enforcement agencies to better track leads and solve crimes.

The technology will be a game-changer for the department.

“We get an alert within 5 to 15 seconds from the time the camera reads the plate,” Korinek said. “If we have a crime and a car description for example, we can enter that into the Flock system and its vehicle analytics can identify the vehicle by make and model and where it is located.”

The equipment will help departments work cooperatively to solve crimes, something that’s always been done, but not to this level.

“Each agency can share data with other law enforcement agencies, like if they are looking for a specific license plate number, we can allow them to look into our data and search our database,” Korinek said. “I’m a firm believer in collaboration and working in conjunction with each other to solve crimes.”

New Independence Police Chief Robert Butler agrees the technology is invaluable and has helped the police department locate numerous stolen vehicles and quickly solve serious crimes.

 Independence has more than 20 license plate reader cameras installed throughout the community, Butler said, and they’ve been in place for more than a year. The data generated is linked to officers’ in-car computers telling them in real-time where a specific vehicle can be found, Butler said.

Police can even enter in precise search criteria, such as the year and color of a vehicle, and the camera will locate the area it just drove through. The cameras also aid in locating missing and/or endangered persons, such as an elderly relative with dementia who left the house in his/her car, he added.

“The tools we have now, compared to when I first started out as an officer, are just incredible,” Butler said. “This is the stuff we have always needed. Police often do not have a lot of information (to go on) and these cameras give us all the information we could ever want.” ∞