TULSA, Okla. — One Tulsa neighborhood is using an innovative way to solve crimes, and now Tulsa police are interested in using it in high crime areas, but they need your input.
The department has partnered with a company called Flock Safety which uses automated license plate readers to help officers investigate crimes.
Frank Rhoades lives in the Forest Hills neighborhood near Utica Square.
Following a series of property crimes last year, he began to look for other security options for himself and his neighbors.
“We had a drive-through security service working for us for several years, and at one point I added up how much we had spent on them because we had never apprehended anybody. It was $100,000. It was over an 8-year period, and I was like, you know what? There’s got to be a better way," he says.
So, he began to google modern technology security devices and discovered Flock Safety.
It’s basically a cell phone that goes in a case and it takes snapshots of car tags as they come in like a pike pass and stores it up in the Cloud for 30 days," he says.
The system works by capturing a photo of your license plate, and then sending a real-time alert to law enforcement if a car is stolen, or there is vehicle police are searching for, or an Amber Alert.
“So, what it really helps us with is those alerts for stolen vehicles going by or a stolen plate or maybe an Amber Alert that is a concern. Then officers who work in that area can have that camera assigned to alert them. They can get the alert and know the vehicle is in the area and start looking for it, "says Tulsa Police Captain, Jacob Johnston.
For those concerned about government regulation or big brother, Captain Johnston says don't be.
“Our policy restricts us from utilizing the alerts as probable cause to stop a vehicle. We are looking at that as a tip and requiring the officers to do their own investigation and research to ensure the vehicle is still actively involved in the NCIC database," says Johnston.
With the success of the Forest Hills neighborhood camera system, Tulsa police are looking at utilizing a 12-month program in certain high crime areas of town.
It will be free of charge, or the department can use it as a proof-of-concept test.
For those people who might be skeptical of how the system works, Frank says it's been a game-changer for his neighborhood.
“We have an off-duty TPD officer who runs the plates for us when we have an incident and it’s worked out great," he says.
If you would like more information about the Flock System, the Tulsa Police Department will be holding a public safety meeting next Tuesday at Spirit Life Church.
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