Last month, the Zionsville Police Dept. installed 10 new Flock Safety license plate reader cameras throughout Zionsville, including the town’s entryways.
Boone County Prosecutor Kent Eastwood has said the cameras are investigative tools commonly used by municipalities and counties to gather evidence to prosecute criminals.
The cameras capture footage that can assist police in discerning a vehicle’s license plate number vehicle type, color, direction of travel and the owner’s sex offender status, among other information.
ZPD patrol officers have immediate access to data captured by the cameras via an alert on their mobile computer, which provides real-time enforcement data, according to ZPD Public Information Officer Elizabeth Fros. Flock Safety also alerts police through a “hot list” if a stolen vehicle, missing persons vehicle or any vehicle that was used in a crime is detected by a camera.
Data captured by the cameras is stored for 30 days on an encrypted cloud server, after which it is completely wiped from storage unless manually saved into a case file, Frost said. The data is accessible to law enforcement only, and guidelines exist regarding how and why officers can access the data. Flock Safety employees cannot access the data, according to the ZPD.
“The whole purpose of the Zionsville Police Dept. purchasing these cameras was to help with our investigations and to minimize crime that we get in and out of our town,” Frost said. “With these cameras set in place, we are getting the traffic coming in and out of our town. The benefit of it is that, say, we have a missing person that we are looking for, and we know what vehicle they are driving. If that particular person drives by one of our cameras, it is going to alert our police officers. It can help us locate those people. In the same sense, it does the same style of thing for people who have done a crime using a vehicle. Obviously, we would have to know the particulars of that vehicle, but sometimes we do.”
Flock Safety also sells license plate reader cameras to local neighborhoods and businesses. In those instances, the homeowner’s association or business own all footage captured by the cameras, which would not be synced with any police surveillance technology. Flock Safety does not share or sell data, and the associations or businesses would be able to determine who can access its footage, including police.
Additional information for HOAs and businesses:
- The cameras are wireless. They run on solar and battery power, so no power source is necessary. Neighborhoods and businesses can install them nearly anywhere, according to town officials.
- HOAs and businesses that purchase a camera will own all footage captured and can share footage with the ZPD if they choose. Officials say the department has strict guidelines regarding how and why they search and use the data.
- The camera can be placed at the entrance to a neighborhood, facing inward to document vehicles entering the neighborhood.
- The town or the ZPD does not supplement additional purchases of cameras through Flock Safety. All costs would be incurred by the HOA or business.