The McNairy County Sheriff’s Office has now begun to take advantage of new technologies designed to track criminals.
Flock camera systems is a new and innovative LPR (License Plate Reader) system that can identify a car’s license plate, make, model and color. Flock developed proprietary software for just this. The system stores a database of tags that investigators can search. The McNairy County Sheriff’s Department has policies in place that require the investigators to log what they search and why. This ensures privacy of citizens traveling past the cameras and protects against misuse of the system. The database is deleted every 30 days as well. Flock cannot access the data their cameras collect, and the data is not sold to third parties.
The Sheriff and deputies have tested the system for accuracy many times. “It works very well” said McNairy County Sheriff Guy Buck, “they’re very effective.” The cameras do not track your speed or issue tickets. They are designed recognize your car and record your license plate only. The cameras are not equipped with face recognition at this time. The manufacturer has stated this addition is being considered for future upgrades.
If your car is stolen the flock system can alert officers by text message where the car is, where it is headed and the time it was spotted. It takes 7 seconds on average for the officers to get a notification from this system according to Sheriff Guy Buck “All officers have access to the alerts.” Said Buck. These alerts can be tied to a stolen vehicle, but the cameras have more uses. Silver alerts which help locate senior citizens that are missing and Amber alerts, used when a child goes missing or is abducted, can be used within the system to watch for vehicles saving law enforcement critical time. Runaways, silver alert and amber alerts can be tracked as the sheriff’s office can update the database locally to search for local tag numbers.
Police also hope to use these cameras to study patterns in certain areas of possible high drug traffic. They will be able to study patterns in vehicles from out of state and see if there is a need for further action. This could cut down dramatically on the trafficking of illegal substances in rural areas where police being present constantly is not possible. It is like a twenty-four-hour neighborhood watch.
There are eleven cameras in the county so far. “I would love to have 20” Said Buck. These cameras are the equivalent to an officer being on patrol searching tag numbers 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. That comes out to about $6.85 per day for the camera to operate. That is equivalent to an officer being on duty but not having the expense of things such as a vehicle or insurance. “This is a force multiplier for us.” Buck stated.
The cost to the county is $2500 per year however the taxpayers are not being burdened with the cost. “Us and Selmer paid for them the first year from the of the drug fund” said Buck. “Going forward we have it set to be paid for out of our restricted data processing fund which is not taxpayer money.”
Some larger cities such as Atlanta have cut crime in areas where flock cameras are located but up to fifty percent. It is too soon to know for sure the impact this has had on the county. Sheriff Guy Buck hopes to have statistics at the end of the first year of having the cameras.