Williamson County commissioners voted unanimously in favor of participating in a pilot program with Flock Group Inc. to install 25 rear license plate-reading cameras in an effort to reduce crime throughout the county.

The contract with Flock was approved 4-0; County Judge Bill Gravell was not in attendance at the Commissioners Court's May 3 meeting.

Sheriff Mike Gleason said the yearlong pilot program is free for any jurisdiction to participate in. Each camera costs $2,500 and has a $250 installation fee. If Williamson County decides to keep the cameras at the end of the pilot, it will cost $68,750, according to county documents.

“The company is betting the farm, if you will, that this pilot program will be so successful by giving out 25 [cameras] to every law enforcement agency in the United States that those numbers are going to come back to the positive,” Gleason said.

While Williamson County did not provide exact locations where the Flock cameras will be installed during the meeting, Gleason said they will be located in unincorporated areas and the placement will be driven by current crime data.

Officials with the sheriff's office said these cameras will be used to aid in investigations.

Using the example of the Rattan Creek subdivision in Northwest Austin, Gleason said if Flock cameras were installed at the entrance and exit points to the neighborhood and a doorbell camera caught a car burglary, the system could match the suspect’s car’s make and model to the license plates of all matching cars in the neighborhood during the correct time frame.

Likewise, Lt. Russell Travis said if a string of burglaries occurs on a given night, the cameras’ data could be used to find vehicles that drove through all the affected areas.

“These systems have so much more capabilities to help us solve these crimes,” Travis said.

During the meeting, a few members of the public raised concerns about privacy. Gleason responded by saying only law enforcement agencies have access to the cameras' data and that the cameras only collect rear license plate images, not images of people’s faces.

Pflugerville City Council approved the purchase of 28 Flock security cameras during its April 26 meeting.

Commissioner Valerie Covey said toward the end of the one-year study, the sheriff’s office will present data about the effectiveness of the cameras. If the county decides to move forward with them permanently, Covey said it will follow the standard procurement process.