Vandalia police adding cameras on busy streets to fight crime

·2 min read

Jan. 24—VANDALIA — The city of Vandalia will soon use security cameras, placed in various locations around town, to deliver investigative leads to law enforcement with the goal of crime reduction.

City council approved the purchase of 10 Flock Safety cameras last week, for a total amount of $30,000 plus an installation fee of $500. Vandalia Police Chief Kurt Althouse said the purchase was included in the department's 2022 capital budget.

Flock Safety says its cameras can be used by law enforcement agencies to monitor traffic in an attempt to mitigate crime. The cameras are motion-activated, solar-powered and monitor around-the-clock. The system's cloud-based software allows law enforcement to search through recorded video by vehicle make, color, type, license plate, state of the license plate, missing/covered plate, and unique vehicle details like roof racks, bumper stickers, and more.

"Since a significant number of crimes occur with vehicle involvement, obtaining a vehicle license plate is often the best evidence to solve crimes," Althouse said. "Since a license plate is public information on a public road, it often gives our officers the first investigative lead to help solve crimes and ultimately reduce crime."

Althouse said Vandalia Police officers will be able to receive alerts when vehicles involved in criminal activity pass by any of the 10 cameras, which he said will be "strategically placed along high-traffic roadways."

Council waived the formal competitive bidding process, a move requested by Althouse in a memorandum to city council in December. Althouse requested the waiver as he said the company, Flock Safety, is the sole-source provider of the camera system.

"Flock Safety built the first public safety operation system that helps neighborhoods, businesses, and law enforcement in thousands of cities work together to eliminate crime, protect privacy, and mitigate bias," Althouse said in the memorandum.

Council approved the purchase unanimously. A timeline for implementation of the camera systems has not yet been determined.