Beginning in April 2022, the Round Rock Police Department partnered with Flock Safety and installed 30 automatic license plate readers to Round Rock arterial roadways for the purpose of reducing crime. Since the original installation of these cameras, Flock’s system has been helpful in several cases and are seen as an important resource is addressing crime in the locations where they have been placed.
On September 8, 2022, the Round Rock City Council unanimously approved the Police Department entering a contract with the Flock Safety. The 12-month, renewable term is a continuation a pilot project that began in April 2022. The program will cost $75,000 per year with an initial $10,500 implementation fee and it will be paid for from the PD general fund.
Flock Safety is a public safety operating system that helps communities and law enforcement in over 1,500 cities work together to eliminate crime, protect privacy, and mitigate bias. The company builds devices that capture objective evidence and use machine learning to detect and deliver investigative leads to law enforcement. Flock Safety communities have reported crime reductions of up to 70 percent.
Also launched in 2022, the Community Camera Program allows residents to register their home surveillance cameras with the PD. This does not give the PD access to the cameras, but it does allow the PD to more easily reach out to these residents to request footage in case a crime occurs near their home. Registration is voluntary, as is providing footage.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why is this needed? 7 in 10 crimes are committed with a vehicle and police consistently report that a license plate and vehicle details are the most helpful lead when working a case. Flock Safety cameras capture the rear of vehicles and a clear picture of the license plate, even in low-light conditions and at various speeds. The Flock Safety system is used by thousands of communities across the U.S. and is helping police solve hundreds of violent and property crimes every day.
How does it work? Flock Safety LPR cameras go beyond capturing license plates. Unlike traditional license plate readers, their technology accelerates investigations by allowing users to filter their search based on the vehicle’s specific characteristics, including body type, make, color, and more. This is key in producing an investigative lead for law enforcement when a suspect vehicle has no visible plates.
What types of crime will this be used for? The cameras will help with proactive policing by providing real-time alerts for stolen vehicles or vehicles associated with missing persons cases. They will also assist in investigative work by helping to determine vehicles involved in crimes and where they may be now. These crimes include violent crime, felony offenses, and vehicle burglaries. The cameras do not capture vehicle speed and will not be used for traffic enforcement.
What happens to the data? The Round Rock Police Department will possess the data, not Flock Safety. Data is secured with end-to-end encryption and will be automatically deleted after 30 days. It will never be sold or used for non-law enforcement purposes. It will only take photos of the rear of the vehicles. There is no facial recognition and it is not linked to personally identifiable information.
Who has access to this information? Multiple law enforcement agencies in Central Texas utilize Flock cameras. Vehicles entered as stolen or associated with missing persons by one agency will alert other agencies should that vehicle enter their jurisdiction. Users create an audit trail with each search of the database, including the documented reason (case number) for the search.