PFLUGERVILLE, Texas (KXAN) — The Pflugerville Police Department is trying something new to fight crime in places officers can’t be.
Over the next six weeks, 28 Flock safety cameras that have license plate readers will be placed across the city in high traffic areas and large retail areas.
Angela Honey is looking forward to the installation of the cameras. On Tuesday, she had to call the police after she was involved in a road rage incident at the edge of Pflugerville.
“I was changing lanes… they went around my car and then cut me off and got out of the car and started banging on my window and yelling at me,” Honey said.
She did not get the driver’s license plate number and there were not any cameras around to capture it for officers. She says having a camera to do that would have helped.
The Flock cameras will be installed near Stone Hill Town Center.
“So, if somebody steals from Target or Walmart and they say it’s a red Camry, we can access the video during that timeframe to see if we had a red Camry during that time leave the parking lot,” said Lt. Tyler Summers of the Pflugerville Police Department.
The department says the Flock Safety Cameras have a license plate reader and will only take pictures of vehicles as they drive by. The cameras will capture the back of your car, including bumper stickers and other identifiers. It does not detect people or conduct facial recognition.
Police say several Pflugerville homeowner associations (HOA) have already installed Flock Safety Cameras, including an HOA in Steeds Crossing. Over the past year, the system has helped police recover 19 stolen cars.
The goal is for the cameras to act as an investigative tool for police to reduce crime and help with investigations. The cameras will also automatically scan for stolen vehicles and missing or wanted people. Pflugerville police say all camera data can be accessed by officers up to 30 days after videos are captured. They hope to have the same success as other local agencies.
“In the first 48 hours of Round Rock having these they’ve had three stolen vehicle hits and a stolen vehicle license plate hit, one missing person hit, and it was used in a homicide investigation,” Lt. Summers explained.
To ensure responsible use of Flock’s platform, Pflugerville Police have developed a policy based on the best practices of other agencies, which includes:
- A 30-day limit on data storage and access restrictions
- Employee training
- Strict restrictions surrounding when cameras can be accessed
- Quarterly audits of officers’ usage by leadership
According to Pflugerville PD, Flock will provide a transparency portal that shows the number of cameras, number of vehicles detected, data shared with other law enforcement agencies and how many searches officers have conducted using the system. When live, the portal will be available at pflugervilletx.gov/flocksafety.
The 28 cameras were approved by city council Tuesday night and are funded through a Department of Justice Project Safe Neighborhood Grant.
The city of Bee Cave is getting similar cameras. Last month, city council voted to install license plate readers at Central Park at the Hill Country Galleria. Bee Cave officials tell us the cameras should be ready in the next few weeks.