Bloomington police may expand use of license plate reader software

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Flock Safety’s license plate reading cameras have been a hit in Bloomington, said Deputy Police Chief Chad Wamsley, who updated the Public Safety and Community Relations Board (PSCRB) meeting. Thursday evening.

Wamsley reported that eight stolen cars have been found, including one with a gun inside, since the cameras were recently installed. He said the cameras had also been useful in searching for missing people and helping suicidal people.

Currently, eight cameras are in service and two more should be installed soon. Wamsley said the use of automatic license plate readers (ALPR) could be expanded in the city sooner rather than later.

“We’re going to be exploring, as a beta test, one of our security cameras with Flock software to see if it’s going to work,” Wamsley said.

Installing Flock Safety software into pre-existing cameras, instead of installing new poles, would save money. Wamsley said the cost of setting a new pole in the ground with a Flock camera is around $2,500. The price for using current cameras with new software is around $1,200.

The current plan is to install the software in three or four public safety cameras, but that will have to be dealt with by the city council first.

Racial disparity in traffic stops

Last year, 38% of traffic stops in Bloomington involved black drivers. This means that black drivers were 4.7 times more likely to be stopped than white drivers. Now, in the first nine months of 2022, that rate has dropped.

Wamsley reported a 10% drop in the number of black drivers arrested. While the racial disparity in traffic stops persists, it’s a noticeable improvement from last year, and Wamsley said part of what’s helped bring that stat down is focusing more on areas with increased traffic and accidents – rather than high crime neighborhoods.

“We always focus on high crime areas. We are not going to give up on this,” he said. “The whole community needs to be safe. But we put extra emphasis on, when we have extra manpower, some of these high traffic, high accident places.

Wamsley said school zones have also come under increased scrutiny in traffic enforcement.

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