By ALEX MALM When a new automated license plate reader pilot program was piloted in Cranston, one of the cameras was accidentally installed on Warwick's side of Pawtuxet Village. This led many community members to become curious about them. The Warwick
When a new automated license plate reader pilot program was piloted in Cranston, one of the cameras was accidentally installed on Warwick’s side of Pawtuxet Village. This led many community members to become curious about them.
The Warwick Police Department quickly had the Warwick camera removed at the expense of the company that installed them but it led to a bigger question.
Would this type of camera be something that could come to Warwick permanently?
Police Chief Bradford Connor said that he has been keeping an eye on communities involved in the pilot program.
“I like that Woonsocket, Cranston, and Pawtucket have them. It's a good test for the state to see how they work. So far it looks like they are very beneficial. They are definitely a force multiplier. They’re out there and can be used for multiple different things.”
Cranston Police Maj. Todd Patalano said the Flock Safety cameras played a role in at least three-dozen arrests, as well as the recovery of thousands of dollars worth of stolen vehicles, since their August rollout.
Cranston Police have previously highlighted the use of the cameras in two particularly high-profile cases - a pair of August armed robberies linked to a multi-state crime spree more than a month ago, and two separate bank robberies that occurred in the city last week. In both cases, police say, information provided by the cameras led to arrests.
The way the cameras work is if the police department puts out an attempt to locate a vehicle and it drives by one of the camera readers then the police department is notified in a matter of seconds and lets them know what street they are driving on and in what direction.
“As soon as someone comes in our city, if they’re driving a motor vehicle and they pass one of these cameras, we’re altered within three seconds. That has led to multiple apprehensions that simply would not have happened if it wasn’t for the system,” Cranston Police Department Col. Michael Winquist said earlier this month.
Connor said that it could help Warwick Police locate vehicles involved in a number of different situations including not just for criminal matters but in other situations such as suicidal people who happen to be driving in a vehicle.
“It puts another set of eyes out there,” he said.
As with most major initiatives, one of the biggest hurdles is cost.
“It's definitely something we are considering,” said Connor. “Right now it's just looking at a funding source.”
Connor said that each camera costs about $2,500 per year along with a one-time $250 installation fee.
He said it would be important to have them in different areas in the City, and they would consult with the company they go with in order to best determine the best locations to install them.
He said that the next step in the process is to bring it to the City Council to get their input on it.
“That’s a conversation I want to have with the City Council to see if they be on board with it,” said Mayor Frank Picozzi.