MORELAND HILLS — Village officials are considering the use of Flock Safety cameras, according to Police Chief Kevin Wyant. The cameras would be used to identify vehicles and investigate crimes.
He is considering placing four to five cameras at key intersections in the village, such as roads to enter Moreland Hills. The cost is $2,500 per camera per year. There is also a $1,000 installation fee, the chief said.
The Flock camera system allows an officer to search a certain time period for a specific vehicle make, model and color. The software identifies the vehicles that passed by the camera and the images are saved for 30 days. Chief Wyant clarified that these are not traffic cameras and cannot monitor speed. They will not be used for traffic infractions.
“As far as an investigative tool, it’s a really well put together program,” he said at the Roads and Safety Committee meeting on June 1. “We also share with other agencies that have these Flock cameras, in our area and even outside of our area.”
Gates Mills and Hunting Valley, in addition to other communities throughout the Chagrin Valley, already have the cameras. Suspects for two burglaries in Moreland Hills in January were seen on a Flock camera in Hunting Valley.
Chief Wyant said that the cost of these cameras was not included in the budget. He expects to use money from the law enforcement trust fund and federal funding from the U.S. Department of Justice to cover the cost of the cameras. The law enforcement trust fund includes money that is forfeited to the village of Moreland Hills through drug seizures and arrests, according to Lt. Todd Dietzel. For example, he said that a driver recently forfeited his car because of too many OVI arrests. The car became property of the village. It was sold for about $14,000 on GovDeals, a website that government agencies use to sell surplus items.
“They work better as a region when we share and work together,” Mayor Dan Fritz said of the Flock cameras. “If we’re a dead spot for cars coming into Hunting Valley and Chagrin Falls, it limits their ability, likewise if we had them and they (other communities) didn’t.” He described the Flock cameras as a “really sound safety and law enforcement investigative tool.”
Council President Steve Richman asked if the cameras would only be used at main intersections in the village, rather than entrances into housing developments. Chief Wyant said that the cameras would be placed at entrances into Moreland Hills. In some cases, homeowners associations throughout the village have paid to install their own cameras.
“I would appreciate the opportunity to learn more about it,” Councilman Ethan Spencer said, who chairs the committee. “I’m supportive of things that help provide a safe environment for us. And the regional cooperation, at first thought, that’s part of our responsibility – to cooperate with other municipalities around us.”
Lt. Dietzel said that council members will also discuss the Flock cameras.