The League City, TX police department gets additional eyes through “Flock” cameras. Government Technology reported that 42 cameras were placed throughout the city at major intersections on modified street lamps and small cell sites to capture vehicle license plates. The cameras, purchased using a grant through the Texas Motor Vehicle Crime Prevention Authority, will cost $105,000 annually.
The cameras, developed by Flock Safety, are specifically meant for law enforcement to strategically zoom in on the license plate on the back of the vehicle as it drives away. Cameras then scan license place information into a state and national database, alerting officers of any linked nefarious activities via computer notifications. The cameras retain data for 30 days before it’s automatically deleted, reported Government Technology.
“If that license plate is associated with a stolen vehicle, or stolen license plate, or if it’s affiliated with a wanted fugitive, the system will notify all our officers, they will report to the area and try to make a stop,” League City Police Captain Harold Lee told Government Technology.
Although the cameras can assist law enforcement with surveillance, Savannah Kumar, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas, argues that they could also potentially infringe on citizens’ rights to privacy. “It means that our communities are under constant scrutiny while we are carrying out ordinary activities,” she said. “The expansion of surveillance systems provides intimate information about us to the government.”
According to Lee, the intent of the cameras is not to monitor daily activities. “All the cameras do is snap a picture, store it for 30 days, and it erases,” he said.