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5 license plate reading cameras installed in Brentwood to make community safer

The Brentwood Police Department installed five Flock Safety license plate reader cameras to crack down on stolen cars.

ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. — If you are driving through Brentwood, then you might notice something new at some intersections.

The Brentwood Police Department installed five Flock Safety license plate reader cameras to crack down on stolen cars.

“Cars we had drove by in the past that we had no idea were in connection to a crime...now it’ll tell us right away,” Alex Wilcox, who is a community safety officer, said.

The department is one of many agencies in St. Louis County testing out this new technology.

“We bought a few...once they started paying off...we kind of just added more to the system,” Wilcox said.

He also said these cameras scan license plates and have already helped the police department locate criminals, weapons, narcotics, and stolen vehicles.

“It’s about focusing on the objective evidence police need in order to clear these cases that are really hard to solve,” he said. 

Josh Thomas, Flock Safety vice president of external communications, said the company has 160 customers across the state of Missouri.

“Now about 50 of those are law enforcement agencies,” he said. “The rest are public entities -- neighborhoods and businesses -- who are using the exact same technology as police.”

Even people who aren’t police officers are using the cameras. 

5 On Your Side’s Elyse Schoenig asked Wilcox how community members can avoid their privacy feeling threatened with these cameras.

“For us it’s an investigative tool, Wilcox said. "We use it to solve a crime...not to get anything out of it."

He also said these do not operate similar to red light cameras, so no tickets are issued just because you drive by one of the cameras.

“We by default store this footage for only 30 days in the cloud, within a secure cloud server, and then its permanently deleted,” Thomas said.

Thomas also said the footage is hard to access and only has one purpose, which is to make the community safer.

“We focus on vehicles, public information on public roads," Thomas said. "These are not people...in fact, we don’t even have any sort of personally identifiable information within the Flock system.”

Thomas also said the cameras have been used in and outside of St. Louis to help find a missing child and end a Silver Alert. 

In Brentwood, there are plans to purchase two more cameras.

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