The city’s attorney is in the process of reviewing a contract with Atlanta, Georgia-based Flock Safety, a startup specializing in 24-hour wireless cameras designed to capture license plates.
Once the contract is approved, Bellaire will install 10 cameras on major entrances and exits into and out of the city, which is expected one to two months after the contract is approved, according to Lt. Russell Brown.
Bellaire City Council voted Aug. 17 to allow the department to apply for and receive $27,500 in grant funding from nonprofit Bellaire Police and Fire Foundation that will be used to pay for the initial installation and one-year lease agreement, according to city council agenda documents.
The self-contained pole-mounted cameras will utilize an internal wireless connection paired with Flock Safety’s cloud network from which Bellaire will have access as part of the lease agreement.
Visibility from the cameras will reach two lanes, and allow Bellaire police to identify the makes and models of vehicles, Brown said.
“If, for example, we have a burglary happen, and we have some sort of suspect description of a vehicle, then we can both put what is considered a ‘hot list’ in these cameras of a suspect description or a partial license plate, and get alerted if that vehicle passes one of our cameras,” Brown said. “That can alert one of our officers in real time to officers in the area to catch the ‘bad guy,’ so to speak, as he travels through Bellaire.”
Access to vehicle and plate data will come through Flock Safety’s secure cloud network, and in order to protect privacy, data will be deleted after 30 days, according to agenda documents.
Once the cameras are installed, training for Bellaire police will cover dispatch and communications, as well as investigations.
“This is a pilot program,” Brown said. “If it is successful, then we’re hoping that we can add some additional cameras in future years to try to cover larger areas and more points of entrance and exits to try and protect the residents to a greater area.”