Charlottesville police considering use of license plate recognition system

The Charlottesville Police Department has set up an email address to take questions from community members who want to know more about a new tool that the department is considering using.  

“With the association between our stolen vehicles, shots fired calls, and homicides, we have identified the FLOCK License Plate Recognition (LPR) system as a proven tool to assist in deterring and solving crime,” reads a press release sent out by the Police Department this week. 

“This is an extremely useful tool in helping us locate missing, endangered, and wanted individuals. In the event that stolen or flagged vehicles (Amber Alert, Wanted Vehicles, etc.) enter the City of Charlottesville, CPD will receive real-time alerts, notifying our officers, allowing us to deter and mitigate crime within our city. The sole purpose of FLOCK is to keep our Charlottesville community safe.”

On Monday, the CPD’s public information officer clarified that the system is not yet in use.

“CPD has not spent any money towards FLOCK,” wrote Kyle Ervin in an email. “We plan to implement the program; however, this is dependent upon our conversations with the community.”

One of the cameras used in the FLOCK system provided by the City of Charlottesville

The website for Flock Safety states their systems can help eliminate crime. 

According to the release, the department will be notified if specific vehicles are picked up by one of the surveillance devices. These can be stolen vehicles or ones flagged in an AMBER alert. 

The release claims that data collected will not be kept for additional purposes. 

“The still-frame images captured are strictly for official law enforcement purposes only,” it continues. “In most cases, captured data will go unreviewed and will be automatically deleted in 30 days.” 

The executive director of the Police Civilian Oversight Board will be responsible for auditing the system to make sure it is not used for facial recognition, personal identification, and traffic enforcement. CPD will also conduct a monthly review of its use. 

That email is A series of meetings will also be held to answer questions. 

Before you go: The time to write and research of this article is covered by paid subscribers to Charlottesville Community Engagement. In fact, this particular installment comes from the September 15, 2023 edition of the program. To ensure this research can be sustained, please consider becoming a paid subscriber or contributing monthly through Patreon.

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