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PO Box 843, Zebulon, Georgia 30295. You can donate through PayPal by clicking here. Becky Watts: Phone # 770-468-7583 editor(@)pikecountytimes.com
 
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BREAKING NEWS: Pike County Sheriff's Office Installs License Plate Readers
By Editor Becky Watts

ZEBULON - Pike County Times was contacted on Wednesday by concerned citizens when solar powered cameras began cropping up along roadways throughout the county. A few phone calls, emails, and an in-person interview with Major David Neal of the Pike County Sheriff’s Office solved the mystery of these cameras.

What Are They?

Simply put, these are license plate readers that will be used for investigative purposes by the Pike County Sheriff’s Office. These cameras will be used to detect and alert deputies to stolen vehicles. They will also help find wanted persons associated with a specific vehicle and also help assist in identification of vehicles tied to criminal activity.

According to Flock Safety’s website, this company built a product to help solve crimes by providing evidence to law enforcement. According to their website, this evidence has been used to solve many criminal cases including aggravated assault, AMBER alerts, recovering stolen vehicles, and other crimes.

Flock Safety’s website advises that footage is encrypted and stored on a cloud for a short period of time before it is deleted every 30 days on a rolling basis. The website advises that the camera detects vehicle make, type, color, license plate, state, and temporary and missing plates. The cameras are not pointed at houses and will not be accessible to anyone but law enforcement.

The Pike County Sheriff’s Office is currently in the process of installing 18 Flock Safety cameras throughout the county. The technology was paid for with drug seized forfeiture money, said Major Neal, and at no cost to the taxpayers.

How Did This Come About?

“We talked to other agencies that are using this system and were made aware of numerous criminal cases that were solved through the use of the Flock System, and we determined that Flock would help us achieve our goal of serving the community,” said Major Neal.

An example of a successful use of this technology is the arrest of the suspect in the recent shooting of a Lamar County Deputy. The vehicle description and tag were the reason that the suspect was capture in Alabama. A tag reader system alerted local law enforcement to the suspect’s presence so he could be arrested and charged for the crime committed here in Georgia.

“Some of the goals at the Sheriff’s Office are deterrence of criminal activity and arrest/arrests of those responsible for committing crimes in our county,” said Major Neal. Part of achieving that goal is exploring new technology that becomes available and determining if new technology could be beneficial to the citizens of this county.

Who Is Using This Technology?

The Pike County Sheriff’s Office joins a number of other agencies who are using the license plate reader cameras from this Atlanta based company.

In September, Moving Henry Forward notes that the Henry County Commissioners approved an additional 50 cameras to be installed to go along with the 10 that have been in use for the past 18 months. Click here to read, “HCPD invests in Flock license plate cameras.”

Fayette County is also using this technology. The Citizen quotes Sheriff Babb as crediting this tag reader system with bringing in investigative leads that resulted in the identification of a stolen automobile that had been involved in a carjacking including of apprehension of 3 juveniles in that vehicle, identification of a stolen vehicle that brought about 2 arrests, and identification of a vehicle was involved in entering an auto. Click here to read a September 2020 article entitled, “Fayette‘s eyes on crime bust 5 suspects in 2 stolen vehicles.”

DeKalb County also uses this technology to solve crimes. Decaturish.com writes that DeKalb County credits Flock Safety cameras with more than 100 vehicle recoveries and an arrest of a suspect who had outstanding warrants for armed robberies and burglaries. Click here to read the September 2020 article entitled, “DeKalb Commissioner allocates $58,500 for installation of Flock Safety cameras.”

And an 11Alive story from 2019 advises that about 30% of Atlanta police departments used the technology at that time. It also states that Cobb County Police credit the combination of the Flock Safety system and neighborhood policing with a drop in car theft crimes. Click here to read, “Police say license plate readers help reduce crime. But, how is the data being used?”

Closing

License plate readers will be used in investigations by the Pike County Sheriff’s Office. Major Neal advises that this is a new investigative tool for fighting crime in our county.

There is hope that these tag readers will help deter crime in the county. “The implementation of this system is for the primary reason of protecting our citizens,” said Major Neal.

Pike County Times asked if this technology could have helped in the recent vehicle break-ins around the county. Major Neal replied, “Yes.” He said that these tag readers could have potentially provided the Sheriff’s Office with tag and vehicle information on potential suspects.


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10.2.20
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