Port Washington Flock cameras find Silver Alert subject

Flock Safety cameras designed to help crack down on crime helped locate a man who was the subject of a Silver Alert Tuesday, June 7.

Flock cameras are designed to read license plates and can send information about a wanted vehicle to police within seconds. On Tuesday, they quickly helped Port Washington police locate a missing man.

"It’s great because it’s extra eyes that are always present," said Captain Greg Czarnecki, Port Washington Police Department.

This extra set of eyes picked up something unexpected Tuesday.

"It was an older gentleman," said Czarnecki. "He was listed as missing in the town of Brookfield."

Herbert Schmiedel

On Tuesday, a Silver Alert went out for Herbert Schmiedel, 91. According to the alert, his wife woke up to find him and their vehicle gone. Schmiedel was without a cellphone. 

A crime analyst from the Grafton Police Department entered the missing vehicle information into the Flock Safety database. 

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Here’s how these cameras work:

"What it does is, it captures a picture of a license plate and every vehicle that passes by it, and it checks that against like, National Crime Information Center computers and stuff, so if a car is wanted for being stolen, if the person is a registered sex offender, if the driver is wanted and has warrants for them," said Czarnecki. 

The Flock database flagged the vehicle in Port Washington, less than 20 minutes after the Silver Alert went out to the public.

"An officer spotted him probably within about 20 seconds of us getting the alert and did a traffic stop on him, identified him as the person missing and was able to bring him to the police department so the family could pick him up, and he was safe," said Czarnecki. 

Czarnecki said Port Washington currently has less than five Flock cameras. He said they were installed thanks to funding from local civic groups. He said for smaller police departments like theirs, these cameras are making a difference.

"We’re hoping in the future the city will see the benefit to this and maybe allow us to allocate some money from our budget to this," said Czarnecki. 

Flock cameras are becoming a popular tool for police departments and Neighborhood Watch groups. 

The Waukesha Police Department is the latest department looking into adopting a pilot program for the Flock camera system.