Village, council officials introduced to Flock cameras

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By Thomas Clapper

CCM Reporter

Carrollton Council welcomed village officials at its March 11 meeting for a presentation on Flock Cameras that could be installed in the village. 

“I want to thank Commissioner Robert Wirkner and Sheriff Calvin Graham for being here,” said Mayor William Stoneman. “It will be a united village-wide effort with cooperation with the commissioners, the sheriff and others to bring these cameras to Carrollton.”

Police Chief Tim Timberlake set up a Zoom call meeting with Kristin MacCleod and Michael Weaver, from Flock Safety Security Cameras for a presentation. 

“Flock mission is to eliminate crime and shape a safer future together,” said MacCleod. She explained it was founded in 2017 by the CEO who saw crime spiking in his area and asked law enforcement what would be helpful to them. The answer was vehicle identification being most important to catching criminals. 

“Flock can essentially multiply the police force,” said MacCleod. “They are stationary cameras that take still images of the rear of a vehicle. It is solar powered, and photos are put in a database. These photos are not stored beyond 30 days and are hard deleted every 30 days.”

She added the village owns the rights to all of the photos and Flock trains police officers and maintains the cameras 24/7. 

Police receive get real-time alerts. Camera systems link to other cameras and each entity can control who it shares the data with others. 

For a hypothetical example, if Carrollton and Minerva both had Flock Cameras and a criminal went through Minerva, Carrollton PD could get permission to access their data and see the photo to help catch the criminal.

“I want to be clear there is no facial recognition technology, and it is not tied to personal information,” said MacLeod. “Privacy and safeguards are important. Flock never sells data and transparency portal is a public web page that shares info from the police department to show how they use flock system.”

It has the capability to send police officers and deputies an alert within 20 seconds if a wanted vehicle passes by the cameras. It also works as a deterrence. When word spreads the cameras are in the community, it makes it less desirable to come commit crime in the village. Around 200 agencies in Ohio useflock.

“Flock owns the hardware, the village owns the photos,” she clarified when Village Administrator Mark Wells asked. When Wells asked about pricing, MacCleod said it will depend on the amount of cameras and they will have to see what data they gather after working with Chief Timberlake to see what they would need in the village.

The county has been mapped out and about 16 cameras could be used in county. The village specification is about seven, but they will only need four or five. 

Carrollton Schools has four Flock Cameras installed on campus already.

Councilman Chris Barto, who serves as Carrollton School’s dean of students, told council he was just using the Flock Cameras recently and it is nice. 

“There were a couple of incidents where the Flock cameras helped,” said Barto. “One was a random car driving on the grounds which led to nothing, and another that resulted in someone trespassed on school grounds. It has been a really good tool to use.”

Barto noted there is a learning curve, but it gets easier to use. 

“The cameras are clear, you can zoom in and do a lot with the system,” said Barto.

“One nice feature that is helpful is if someone removes license plates, it can identify things such as stickers, the make and model of the vehicle,” said Sheriff Calvin Graham.

“We appreciate the commissioners and sheriff working with the village to collaborate with the us” said Wells.

“All of this emanated out of meeting of the local emergency planning commission,” said Commissioner Wirkner. “We learned the schools worked with it and how the benefits could extend out to the village and the county. My intention to approach my fellow commissioners for permission to further explore the Flock system, the expenses and how they might be able to collaborate with village.”

Wirkner wanted to make one thing clear to the public.

 “I think it would be important for the public to know that this is not big brother watching over your shoulder. It is about if a crime takes place, we have the ability to track that crime and through potential overlapping jurisdictions if it happens. These cameras aren’t going on fishing expeditions, this is if something happens you use the system to go after the individuals responsible for the event.” 

Council agreed to allow Timberlake and Flock Cameras to negotiate cameras and come to the council with prices and options.

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