The Plainfield Police Department in central Indiana is installing digital license plate readers around the city to solve and deter crime.
The department is partnering with Atlanta-based Flock Safety to test out their Automatic License Plate Reading (ALPR) cameras throughout a 60-day free trial period to see if it’s a worthwhile investment.
The department is installing 14 cameras in strategic locations around the city where it can oversee traffic.
Once a vehicle passes in front of the camera, it automatically takes a photograph, which is then uploaded to the cloud and analyzed by a computer program. If the program detects a license plate from a stolen or wanted car on the national crime database, it sends a real-time alert to the police. It also detects if a vehicle is associated with a missing person AMBER Alert or Silver Alert.
“The whole reason behind having this type of program is to bring peace to those families and closure,” said Plainfield Police Department Deputy Chief, Joe Aldridge. “A lot of people are entered in as a silver alert could drive hundreds of miles away from their home before they’re found and so this will help us and aid us in solving some of those.”
Aldridge assured that the cameras are not intended for traffic violations.
“These cameras are not meant for traffic violations of any sort,” he said.
“This really would help us with our solvability rating in solving crime and keeping Plainfield safe,” he added.
If Plainfield PD decide to keep the cameras, it will cost at least $27,000 dollars.
According to a Fox59 report, the cameras only detect license plate numbers and vehicle characteristics like make, model and color. The cameras do not capture people or faces.
Plainfield wouldn’t be the first police department in Indiana to adopt Flock Security Systems technology.
The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, Indiana State Police, the Greenwood Police Department, Greenfield Police Department, Noblesville Police Department, and several agencies in Hancock County are already experimenting with the technology.
Aldridge believes the technology will help the department crack down on stolen vehicles. In the last two years, the city has reported over 143 stolen vehicles.
“This system is gonna help us tremendously and it’s one of those systems that’s been around for quite a while,” said Aldridge.
Gary Woodruff, Deputy Chief of the Lawrence Police Department, said that Flock Safety is the next step in crime technology.
“First came fingerprints, then the processing of DNA, body-worn cameras and their processing of evidence. The Flock camera system is a logical next step,” he said.
Woodruff said that his department has had great success with the cameras since they’ve installed them almost a year ago.
“They’ve solved a great many crimes for us,” he said. It’s been instrumental in some of our shooting cases and some of our recent violent crime incidents.”
The Flock Safety system also creates a network between police agencies, enabling them to work together if a suspect wanted in one area is located in another.
“It helps solve crimes. The criminals don’t stay in their own towns or cities. They do cross jurisdictional boundaries,” Aldridge explained.
Police say that the system respects data privacy. Data is only kept 30 days before it is deleted, and police still require a search warrant when an alert is not automatically generated and sent to police by the system.
ALPR cameras are currently in more than 1,200 cities across the U.S., Plainfield police said. The company stated that their technology helped reduce crime by 70%.