Guthrie Police Department using new cameras to track wanted vehicles, crack down on crime

The Guthrie Police Department is following in other agencies’ footsteps to solve a crime. And they’re using camera technology to do it.

It now has Flock Safety Automated License Plate Readers throughout the city to capture the “fingerprint” of vehicles entering the community.

A vehicle fingerprint includes the license plate, make, model, color, and number of times the vehicle has been seen.

The system does not detect people and is not used for traffic enforcement.

The 12 Flock cameras will assist officers to identify stolen vehicles, missing people, and crack down on crime while adhering to all state laws.

The cameras work around the clock and will assist officers in detecting wanted persons, recovering stolen property, locating Silver and Blue Alert persons, and investigating ongoing criminal issues.

When alerted, real-time alerts are received by law enforcement.

Flock cameras are used in many towns across the nation and in Oklahoma. Flock Safety officials report Tulsa police were able to recover 26 stolen vehicles, $400,000 in recovered stolen property, and arrested a homicide suspect in the first two months of the program.

“This technology has basically been like we have operated in the dark,” Tulsa Chief Wendell Franklin said. “Flipping this technology on is liking the light switch on.”

The cameras and system for a two-year contract cost $61,722 and are being funded with a grant from the National White Collar Crime Center. The City is under no obligation to continue the program beyond two years.

Camera footage is stored for 30 days and then deleted. The footage is owned by the Guthrie Police Department and not sold to any third party, according to Flock Safety.

Some privacy concerns have already been raised with this type of technology.

Guthrie Police Chief Don Sweger answered some of those concerns.

“There is this misconception that the camera runs the tag through our databases. 99.9% of the tags will never get run for any reason,” Sweger told the council. “If you’re worried about the information being generated, we got more capabilities in our cars right now to run stuff that this system ever does.”

He added by saying, “We can run your driver’s license; we can run you for warrants and your criminal history. This does none of that. This provides you with an investigative lead.”

Sweger offered more commentary on public cameras.

“If anybody has been on I-35 going to Oklahoma City you get your picture taken at least twice. When you go to Stillwater you get your picture taken once. When you go on the turnpike, they have pike pass and pike plate, and there are multiple when you go to the (State) Capitol.”

The council approved the agenda item during a November 2022 meeting.

10 cameras have been placed inside city limits and two just outside of the city limits.


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