Flock Safety System identifies license plates for police investigation

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Last October, Provo Police responded to a deadly hit-and-run. Within 20 minutes they had identified the suspect’s vehicle.

Provo Police’s Public Information Officer Jana-Lee Holland said the key to their quick response was the implementation of a new license plate recognition system.

“Without that, we wouldn’t have ever been able to find the person who left the scene from that accident and resolve that for the family,” Holland said.

Provo Police implemented the system in April 2023. Holland said the Flock Safety system runs on an interconnected network of 23 security cameras throughout Provo. Flock cameras read license plates and can search for vehicles based on make, model, color and other attributes. This allows police to efficiently recover stolen property and investigate crime quickly.

“We’ve seen great success with (Flock),” Holland said. “We are looking forward to what we can do in the future with it.”

Flock spokesperson Holly Beilin said an additional system, called Raven, can even detect gunshots and send real-time alerts to officers within seconds.

“It captures five seconds of audio at the scene and triangulates it so that law enforcement can quickly get to the scene and hopefully identify the suspect who shot the gun and save anyone on sight,” Beilin said.

Provo Police confirmed Flock performed 152 searches from April to December of last year. These searches included 23 for vehicle theft, 13 for accidents and 10 for theft. Provo police also used Flock in three sexual assault cases, three weapon offense cases and two cases of domestic violence.

“The most common word that we tend to hear is game changer or game changing,” Beilin said. “This system is a force multiplier.”

Holland confirmed Provo’s Flock system uses 23 cameras to collect only pertinent information on vehicles flagged by authorities.

Beilin explained Flock does not collect personal information when it scans license plates in response to a crime.

“Just because the system captures an image of a vehicle, the system does not know who is driving the vehicle,” Beilin said. “It doesn’t know who it belongs to. It doesn’t know the date of birth or the Social Security Number or anything.”

Beilin said Flock wants to responsibly hold information without violating privacy.

“We’re really balancing the collection of data and the responsible security and encryption and maintenance of that data,” Beilin said.

According to Beilin, Flock also deletes license and vehicle data every 30 days.

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