AKRON, Ohio (WJW) – Akron police will soon have high-tech help identifying and tracking down criminals.
City council has approved a $400,000 expenditure to install 145 FLOCK cameras throughout the city, primarily identifying high crime areas.
During their June 6 meeting, Police Chief Stephen Mylett told commissioners the cameras amount to a “force multiplier.”
“There have been several pieces of technology during my career that really turned out to be game changers and I think this is one of them. This camera system really would serve as a force multiplier for the police department primarily to identify people who engage in criminal activity,” said Mylett.
Although the police department does not want them referred to as license plate readers, Deputy Police Chief Michael Caprez said that is primarily what they do.
“These cameras are first and foremost license plate readers so they can read two lanes of traffic up to 100 miles an hour. They can read license plates daytime or nighttime in different weather conditions,” said Caprez.
FLOCK cameras are already in use in multiple Ohio communities, including Macedonia, where Police Chief Jon Golden said they have already helped solve numerous crimes.
“It shows you a picture of the car, it shows you a picture of the license plate and it tells you exactly where it was when it was taken and the direction the vehicle was going so you know to check that area… You can break it down by make, you can break it down by four-door, you could break it down by all vehicles that came through, all vehicles with just license plates,” said Golden.
The cameras are connected to a national law enforcement database that allows officers and departments across the country to help search for wanted suspects.
Akron’s police chief also hopes they will help deter people from committing a crime.
“In terms of our gun violence in the city, it’s not going to cure it but it is certainly going to give us the ability more so to identify individuals who are engaging in this criminal behavior,” Mylett told city council.
There typically are concerns from people who believe ‘Big Brother’ will be watching everything where the camera are installed.
Golden says the data from the cameras is erased after 30 days and they are not used to issue citations.
“Some people are worried that, you know, people are going to get traffic tickets out of these things. Nothing like that happens. We do not write traffic tickets based on these FLOCK cameras, doesn’t work that way,” said Golden.