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Ohio cities renew Flock Safety LPR contracts after traffic enforcement successes

“We have used them many, many times,” Riverside Police Chief Frank Robinson said. “It’s a valuable piece of equipment that we need every day ... we needed it years ago”

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Flock Safety

By Nick Blizzard
Dayton Daily News, Ohio

RIVERSIDE, Ohio — Kettering and Riverside have extended their commitments to automated license plate recognition technology, with police citing the cameras’ help in solving crimes.

Kettering renewed its contract with Flock Group Inc. in January for two more years, while Riverside this month approved a five-year deal for stationary cameras.

The moves follow a December deal for Dayton, which agreed to expand its use of the technology from the same business.

Dayton approved spending $825,750 to acquire 35 new fixed-site automated license plate readers. The contract also covers the cost of maintaining 37 fixed-site readers that Dayton police already use. The agreement lasts through the end of 2028.

The Flock camera company was founded in 2017, and the license-plate reader technology has gone from virtually unknown to all over the Dayton area in about five years.

Police say the cameras can help them solve crimes across multiple jurisdictions. Residents have been split on the issue, with some supportive and some in both Dayton and Kettering saying use of the technology has not gotten enough public debate.

The automated license plate readers provide a still image of a vehicle license plate number and connect to a database. They can send real time alerts if the plate number belongs to a stolen vehicle or one being sought by law enforcement because of an AMBER alert or other missing person alert, officials have said.

The ACLU has argued that the camera systems “have the potential to create permanent records of virtually everywhere any of us has driven ... opening up many opportunities for abuse.”

The 10 cameras Kettering had installed in June 2022 “aided the police department in many ways,” including post office mailbox thefts, burglaries and arson cases, according to the police department.

Last year, Flock “hits” in Kettering resulted in 37 arrests and assisted in 48 cases, including the recovery of 21 stolen vehicles, police records show.

“While not every Flock hit leads to an arrest, images can help determine a suspect’s direction of travel after a crime was committed or help identify a suspect vehicle,” according to Kettering police.

Kettering’s renewal did not change from the initial rate of $25,000 a year, police officials said. The city approved $27,500 in March 2022, but that included a $2,500 installation fee, police officials said.

Riverside’s new long-term deal includes no change in cost from the agreement the city approved last year, Police Chief Frank Robinson said.

The fee is $37,500 a year, according to Riverside’s contract. The city has 15 cameras (compared to Kettering’s 10), according to Maj. Matthew Sturgeon.

“It’s locking us in for the exact same rate for the next five years,” Robinson told city officials.

Flock has told Riverside that its rate “it’s going to go up a certain percentage every year,” Robinson added. “So, if we can lock them in now at this rate ... it’s just going to save us money in the long run.”

Robinson described the system as a critical, daily crime fighting tool used in a variety of ways from investigating homicides or traffic accidents.

“We have used them many, many times,” he said. “It’s a valuable piece of equipment that we need every day ... we needed it years ago.”


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