Sagamore’s license plate reader cameras aid in solving crime
by Michele Collins
Sagamore Hills Police Chief David Hayes said Flock Safety cameras help police solve crime in the township and surrounding communities. The cameras, which were up and running as of February, identify vehicles on the road by reading their license plates.
“Flock Safety is an American company that leases Automated License Plate Recognition technology to law enforcement agencies,” said Hayes. “The cameras read license plates and send instant alerts to law enforcement officers when the cameras identify plates that match those on lists of stolen cars or are otherwise of interest to the police.”
He said the cameras alert police if a vehicle owner has open warrants or is wanted for a violent crime. Flock cameras also allow searches based on the car’s color and various other visual features. According to flocksafety.com, “Flock Safety will never record names, phone numbers, or addresses and doesn’t mark specific locations where people have been. There is no capability in the system to mark or annotate the locations of passersby.”
Hayes said Flock Safety cameras are utilized by thousands of law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and dozens of agencies in the Cleveland area.
In Sagamore Hills, the cameras are leased, installed and serviced by Flock, according to Hayes. They cost $1,000 per camera annually, and the lease agreement is for three years. The cameras are solar-powered.
“Nearly 70% of crime involves a vehicle. That’s why we build devices that focus on vehicular evidence, including license plates and a detailed vehicle fingerprint, according to Flock Safety public information. “Once the police have a potential suspect vehicle, they are more likely to clear cases and decrease crime rates.”
Prior to having their own flock cameras, the Sagamore Hills Police Department utilized the Brecksville Police Department’s Flock cameras to identify vehicles of interest.
Hayes said his department utilized Brecksville’s cameras to help solve a burglary where a gun had been stolen. “That case resulted in charges against a suspect for four burglaries in the Cleveland area,” he said.
Hayes said another advantage of the Flock cameras is that one agency can view another agency’s cameras. Sagamore used their cameras in conjunction with cameras in Macedonia earlier this month to charge a person with receiving stolen property based on an auto theft that was entered into the system.
However, Hayes won’t be telling anyone where the Sagamore cameras are located.
“We won’t be advising where these cameras are, nor how many we obtained, as a suspect looking to commit a crime may choose to enter and exit Sagamore Hills Township on a road without the cameras, thus defeating their purpose,” explained Hayes.
Now that the cameras are operational in Sagamore Hills, the police department will offer its assistance to other police agencies. Generated data from the cameras is owned and managed by each individual police department.
“We have lots of surrounding agencies [through a request] that can view our cameras,” Hayes said. “They are shared resources, as criminals don’t usually commit crimes in just one community.” ∞