Public Meeting Held To Discuss New License Plate-Reading Cameras

Tuesday, April 12th 2022, 9:48 pm

TULSA, Oklahoma -

Tulsa police officers and crime stoppers are rolling out a new camera system they said will help them solve crimes. The cameras can capture license plates and vehicle descriptions to help officers find people suspected of crimes. However, not everyone is on board yet.

Police say these cameras are meant to help them with crimes— not track people. There were a handful of people at Tuesday's meeting wanting to learn more about the new Flock Program coming to Tulsa.

“We started working on a plan to deploy the readers in the city to reduce violent crime," said Capt. Jacob Johnston. Capt. Jacob Johnston said the national police foundation is partnering with flock safety to give certain cities 25 cameras to test for a year for free and see if they make a difference in cutting down on crime.

The cameras are solar powered and can capture license plates and unique vehicle descriptions like make, model, color and even dents or bumper stickers and those images can be sent to police in real time. “Any hit that happens is alerted to officers in the area to send resources," said Capt. Johnston.

That means if police are looking for a stolen car or perhaps a vehicle involved in an Amber Alert, the Flock camera can send a tag number or description so officers can quickly head the right way.

Police are dividing the 25 cameras into high crime areas around town. “That's one of our complaints in the crime in our city any tools," said City councilor Connie Dodson. "We can give police to solve those faster or connect with witnesses is a good thing.”

A couple people were concerned there wasn't enough notice for the meeting. Amanda Swope lives near 61st and Peoria where some cameras will also be installed and has concerns about privacy. “It's always a fine line between trying to ensure public safety while not violating people's rights," Swope said.

Police expect to start getting the cameras in place within the next month. Some neighborhoods already have them because the neighbors paid for them themselves. Police will decide after 12 months if the cameras were effective and if they'll keep them.