Day #1, in the very first hour, Greenwood Assistant Police Chief Matt Fillenwarth said, “We recovered a stolen car.”
It was the police department’s introduction to surveillance cameras from the Atlanta-based company, Flock Safety.
Fillenwarth raved to FOX59/CBS4 about how Flock cameras can identify license plates, search for the make, model or color of a vehicle, and more, “You could query Flock cameras for person walking a dog and it’ll give you a picture of every person, and those are high-definition pictures and they work just as well at night as they do in the day.”
“A force-multiplier,” was Fillenwarth’s glowing assessment.
The Greenwood PD has six Flock cameras. So does the Homecoming at University Park development. Each of the three entrances is covered by two cameras with signs noting they operate 24/7.
What the signs don’t say is that the police have access to them.
FOX59/CBS4 is told the cameras are under the authority of the development’s homeowners association, but Fillenwarth can run queries through them like it can its own cameras.
However, the HOA cannot examine the police searches, and the police cannot see searches executed by the HOA.
Attempts to reach the HOA today were unsuccessful. Similarly, Flock did not respond to our email this morning to the company. According to its website, the company was founded in 2017 with the mission to “eliminate crime while respecting individual rights.”
Still, the ACLU of Indiana has lots of questions of the expanding use of Flock cameras. Particularly those on private property.
“People might say, ‘Oh, it’s on private property. It’s not part of government surveillance.’ In fact, that’s not always true,” said Executive Director Jane Henegar.
She notes that ACLU of Indiana has been in discussions with city government in Indianapolis about how IMPD uses some 275 Flock cameras positioned around the city.
“We are concerned about how long this information is retained. How it’s retained, the security surrounding its retention and then what are the potential uses of this technology,” said Henegar.
Henegar notes Indiana law has not kept up with potential infringements on privacy by technology advancements.
And it appears Flock’s business is booming. On its website, it boasts of one billion plus vehicles detected on its cameras nationwide each month.