Germantown police test license plate-reading cameras

Village of Germantown streets are being monitored in more ways than one. 

The Germantown Police Department has been testing out a device – Flock Safety Automated License Plate Reading (ALPR) Cameras.

"It gives us an extra set of eyes, so to speak," Det. Sgt. Penny Schmitt said. "One of the main things is the license plate-reading function, but it has unmeasurable search capabilities in there where we can search vehicles just by make, model, colors."

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Even bumper or window stickers are detectable. The camera system provides various hot-list alerts to police.

"Those alerts can be stolen vehicles, it could be that a license plate was stolen, it could be that there could potentially be a missing person associated with that vehicle," Schmitt said.

Flock Safety Automated License Plate Reading (ALPR) Camera in Germantown.

In just the 45-day trial period, it's already making a difference

"We did recover three stolen vehicles," said Schmitt. "Technically, with the stolen vehicle recoveries, we have had four arrests."

A statement from Flock Safety said, in part: "We believe in objective, ethical policing."

Germantown Police Department

With the technology used in more than 1,400 cities across the country, it allows departments to network.

"Other area departments who may have the system, too, we all can tap into each other’s camera systems," Schmitt said. "From an investigator standpoint, if I’m investigating something, I can reach out and look at these other cameras."

The tool is helping the department achieve multiple goals. 

"To provide the best possible services that we can to our communities to ensure that we are not only successful in investigating crimes but hopefully preventing crimes in our area as well," said Schmitt.

Flock Safety Automated License Plate Reading (ALPR) Camera in Germantown.

The technology allows police to take a proactive approach with alerts, reaching out to registered owners of plates or vehicles – and learning more about what brings it into the village.  

Schmitt said the hope is to start the systems in the main business districts and open it up to subdivisions and homeowner associations that may feel the need for it.

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