Township Administrator’s Corner by Vito Sinopoli

In an effort to bolster safety and security within Bath Township, the Revere Local School District will use funding through an Ohio Attorney General Safety and Security Grant to install six Flock Safety cameras in locations near school facilities. Flock Safety cameras have gained national attention due to their effectiveness in deterring crime and assisting law enforcement agencies. While concerns have been raised regarding potential infringements on constitutionally protected rights, the benefits of enhanced safety and security cannot be overlooked. In addition to the school district’s installation of cameras, Bath Township is evaluating the potential for expanding the camera network to further benefit the community, while also being mindful of the protection of data privacy.

Flock Safety cameras offer a range of advanced features that significantly contribute to public safety. The initial installation of six cameras along county right-of-ways marks an important step towards creating a secure environment. These cameras provide real-time monitoring and surveillance capabilities that act as a powerful deterrent to criminal activity and can assist the school district with identifying potential threats to students, faculty and staff.

One of the standout features of Flock Safety cameras is their license plate recognition capability, which automatically scans and processes license plate information, enabling law enforcement agencies to quickly identify vehicles associated with criminal activity. This feature not only aids in investigations, but also acts as a valuable tool in deterring potential offenders.

Additionally, Flock Safety cameras can be integrated with the Amber Alert system to identify vehicles involved in Amber Alert cases or other safety alerts. This functionality enhances the community’s ability to respond swiftly in critical situations and contributes to the overall safety of residents, particularly children.

Protecting individuals’ privacy is a top priority for Bath Township when considering the implementation of surveillance systems. Flock Safety has implemented strict measures to safeguard the privacy of community members. Only authorized law enforcement agencies have access to the digital images available through the system, ensuring that sensitive data remains in the hands of those responsible for maintaining public safety. However, the school district will receive proactive alerts pertinent to safety and security.

The Bath Township Police Department recently entered into a memorandum of understanding with Flock Safety for free nationwide access to the camera network. In the short time the department has had access to cameras from other local communities, investigators have been able to develop credible leads in two criminal cases. Vehicles involved in criminal activity, or identified as vehicles of interest due to Amber Alert or other safety concerns can be tracked throughout the entire network, even if those vehicles travel out of state. The MOU that provides free Flock network access ends Dec. 31, at which point only communities with a minimum of ten leased cameras would be eligible for nationwide access. The annual lease amount is $3,000 per camera, excluding initial installation costs. During the evaluation period, Bath will measure the effectiveness of Flock Safety cameras and potentially expand the camera network by adding ten cameras within the township. This expansion would further improve the community’s safety by providing comprehensive coverage in key areas. Bath Township welcomes community feedback on this important topic so that camera placement aligns with community members’ concerns and priorities.

It is important to acknowledge concerns raised regarding potential violations of constitutionally protected rights with the use of Flock cameras. However, it is equally crucial to strike a balance between safety and privacy. The implementation of Flock Safety cameras is intended to provide a safer environment for all residents, and to prioritize data privacy and limit access to only authorized personnel.

The use of Flock Safety cameras in Bath Township presents a valuable opportunity to enhance safety and security. The benefits of license plate recognition, Amber Alert detection and real-time monitoring cannot be overstated. As plans for expansion of the camera network are considered, Bath Township will maintain a focus on protecting privacy so the community can enjoy the advantages of advanced surveillance technology while fostering a safe and secure environment for all. ∞