GATES MILLS — After a series of crimes in the village over the past few years, Police Chief Gregg Minichello is turning to cameras to deter criminals from the village. Rick Lombardo of Flock Safety gave a presentation on cameras to catch license plate numbers at the virtual Safety and Emergency Management Committee meeting on Monday.

Chief Minichello said that these are not traffic cameras but rather a “residential tool” that is more effective for neighborhoods. Some local communities are looking into using the cameras, including Pepper Pike and Hunting Valley.

Mr. Lombardo said that these cameras read license plate numbers and serve as a “direct pipeline straight to the police station.” If a stolen vehicle passes the camera, the police are immediately notified with a description of the car and the license plate number. The same process would also occur for felony warrants, sex offenders, gang members and terrorists, Mr. Lombardo said.

“It’s really just a tool for the community and the police department to utilize to help catch crimes before they happen,” he said. “And it’s a really great investigative tool on the back end.”

The cameras can also be used reactively, such as tracing a suspect after a crime is committed. If there was a home break-in, the home security system might catch the color and model of the suspect’s car. Then the Flock Safety cameras can be used to check every car with that description, potentially matching the car description with the suspect.

According to Mr. Lombardo, the cost is $2,500 per camera per year. That cost includes hardware, software, the cell signal and the storage fees. There is a $250 installation fee per camera.

The data is stored on Amazon Web Services for 30 days. He said that the Gates Mills police officers are the only people with access to the data. The cameras are also solar powered, Chief Minichello said.

Councilman Larry Frankel, who chairs the safety committee, asked how the village would determine where to put the cameras. Mr. Lombardo recommended the ingress of the community, meaning anywhere that drivers can enter Gates Mills, such as Cedar Road, Mayfield Road and Gates Mills Boulevard.

“My personal preference is I like to cover the ingress period,” he said, “so every way that somebody could get into your city, you’re able to capture them.”

Resident Hadley Kline questioned if an Internet connection for the cameras would be an issue in the village. Mr. Lombardo said that the company would test each site to see if there is a strong Internet connection before installing the cameras. He added that it would take 30 to 45 days before the cameras were installed. Village officials have not yet made a decision about the cameras.

Chief Minichello said that over the past five years, the most crimes have taken place in the Gates Mills Boulevard area, including Chartley Road, Dorchester Road, West Hill Drive and Old Mill Road. Chief Minichello and Sgt. Michael Day are considering placing cameras in that area.

Julie Hullett has been a reporter for the Chagrin Valley Times since August of 2018 and covers Gates Mills, Hunting Valley, Moreland Hills, Orange, Pepper Pike and Woodmere. She graduated from John Carroll University with a journalism degree in 2018.

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