Council vote on Flock Cameras delayed to August

Posted 6/1/22


A vote that was scheduled by the City Council  to purchase automatic license plate cameras was put on hold until August at the last minute during the May 16 Council …

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Council vote on Flock Cameras delayed to August



A vote that was scheduled by the City Council  to purchase automatic license plate cameras was put on hold until August at the last minute during the May 16 Council meeting.

The request to hold the vote was made by Col. Brad Connor.

“The reason was twofold, first we wanted to see what, if any, bills pass at the state level that would affect the use of the cameras and second, we will be working with elected city officials to draft an ordinance that would allow for the technology that we are seeking but also place restrictions on its use as well as limit any future technology to be implemented without oversight,” Connor  said following the meeting. “In doing this we hope to promote community engagement and transparency while ensuring the public that this valuable law enforcement tool, as intended, can work to promote a safer city without invading the privacy of its citizens.”

Connor first made his pitch to the Council on Feb. 28 to lease 10 Flock Safety Automatic License Plate Readers.  Due to concerns  brought up by both members of the Council and the public the measure was originally held until May.

“The Flock Safety ALPR is not your traditional live feed camera, rather it is a device that records and stores data. The technology captures still photographs of license plates and vehicle characteristics as they travel on public roads,” Connor explained in a memo to the Council.

“The cameras do not independently record people or faces but can be used to solve and reduce violent and property crimes. The cameras will never be used for traffic enforcement, as they cannot track speed or identify unregistered or uninsured vehicles. They capture objective evidence in plain sight, such as license plates, and can never be used for facial recognition.”

In the memo to the Council Connor said that while the cameras “do not result in unwarranted invasion of one’s privacy, they capture more than just license plates.”

“They allow investigators to search footage by vehicle type, make, color and other unique attributes; identify the state of a license plate; and capture temporary plates, paper plates, and vehicles without plates,” the memo reads. “ They are able to cover two lanes of traffic and vehicles traveling up to 100 mph. Investigators are also able to input vehicle data into the system and receive a ‘HIT’ and alert within seconds of a camera detecting that vehicle. The cities of Cranston and Pawtucket have shared their data and success stories with us. In the short time that they have used Flock Safety they have seen arrests increase significantly and have had a record number of recovered stolen property. Just as important, it has been used to locate missing and endangered people.”


Earlier this year legislation was introduced in the House by state Rep. Joseph Solomon Jr. and by state Sen. Kendra Anderson, both of Warwick.

The legislation summary states that the act would “provide for municipal and state police authorities to utilize automated license plate readers. Further, the act would identify what data may be collected and define how the data can be used.”

Anderson, who was one of those in the Council Chambers prepared to testify on May 16 following the meeting said,  “It’s imperative that we don’t rush the decision to use advanced surveillance technology until we have smart policies in place to protect the civil liberties of all residents of Warwick and RI.”

“Advanced technology like this requires oversight that clearly defines how these cameras can be used productively without infringing on the rights of residents. It’s important to enact statewide regulations to provide a uniform set of procedures as data from this system may be shared between municipalities,” said Anderson.

Solomon said that he expects a “Sub A” bill will be introduced this year in the House.

Solomon said that from conversations he has had with different stakeholders on the bill “everyone agrees it shouldn’t be used by third parties and that data shouldn’t be sold.”

“I’m hoping to get a framework in place this year and work more on the details as to when and how it can be used next year,” Solomon said in a text message. “Right now, nothing prohibits any city or company from using it for those purposes. Based on representations from who I’ve spoken to, the cameras are being used for limited purposes. However, without a framework, that could easily change.”

council, flock cameras


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