Springboro extends Flock camera program, touts success in solving crimes

After a year of use, the city of Springboro has decided to extend its lease of Flock license plate-reader cameras for another five years, saying they have proven to be an effective crime fighting tool.

Springboro City Council approved the continued leasing of the fixed camera system for 18 locations, to monitor traffic around the city.

The cameras scan all license plates that pass by, taking photos and producing alerts when they see plates linked to stolen vehicles or criminal warrants from law enforcement databases.

The cameras at various fixed points help police track criminal movements coming into and going out of the community, said City Manager Chris Pozzuto.

“It’s amazing,” Pozzuto said. “The best part is that it flags vehicles with criminal activity.”

Police Chief Dan Bentley said the Flock cameras have been invaluable to the police department in recovering many stolen vehicles and identifying and apprehending suspects from Springboro and other communities.

“According to the police department, Flock cameras help us solve at least 10 crimes a month — either a Springboro crime or us assisting other jurisdictions with theirs,” Pozzuto said.

Pozzuto said Flock gave the city the choice of renewing its lease on a yearly basis or renewing for five years, which would include a $1,000 discount per camera while allowing termination of the lease at any time. With the five-year lease, the program will cost the city about $47,500 per year.

The cameras have been a source of controversy nationwide. Many law enforcement agencies tout them as a powerful crime-fighting tool, while privacy advocates worry that Flock’s growing network creates a searchable database tracking everyday Americans’ movements.

Lebanon considers adding cameras

Last month, Lebanon City Council heard a proposal to install Flock cameras around the city. Lebanon police Capt. Michael McCutchan said Flock license plate readers were on two cruisers but that was not effective because one of those cruisers may be out of service or in a different part of Lebanon.

He said Flock analysts working with Lebanon police have identified 30 locations to deploy the cameras. McCutchan said Flock cameras are being used in more than 2,000 U.S. cities and that there are more than 500 cameras with sharing capabilities in southwest Ohio, and 88 in Warren County communities.

Agencies utilizing the cameras include the Warren County Sheriff’s Office, Springboro, Franklin, Hamilton Twp., and Mason. Jurisdictions using the cameras elsewhere in the Dayton area include Beavercreek, Centerville, Kettering, Miami Twp., Vandalia, Dayton, Tipp City, and West Carrollton.

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