GREENWOOD, Ind – About a month after two Greenwood Park Mall employees were held at gunpoint in separate incidents in the mall’s parking lot, Greenwood Police and Simon Properties are moving forward with plans to upgrade security technology at the mall.
Greenwood Police Chief Jim Ison says his department and Simon Properties security officials have agreed to install Flock license plate reader cameras at four entrances to Greenwood Park Mall. Once installed and activated, the cameras will scan the license plates of vehicles entering and exiting the mall property.
“The plate will be read, a photo taken of the vehicle and it will be ran through the national crime information center,” Chief Ison said. “So if the vehicle is listed as stolen, or there’s a wanted person associated with it, or a missing person, within 15 seconds, every officer will get a message sent to their laptop computer in the car stating that this vehicle just passed the camera, the location, direction of travel, and a picture of the vehicle.”
Flock license plate reader technology has become increasingly popular among law enforcement agencies across the country. Greenwood Police currently have six Flock cameras placed in different parts of the city. Within the first year of using the technology, Ison said the cameras helped investigators locate 17 stolen vehicles and 2 missing persons from other communities.
Ison said a Flock camera near Greenwood Park mall was instrumental in tracking down a stolen SUV and two juveniles believed to be involved in both gun incidents outside the mall last month. The Chief also said Greenwood Park Mall security officials will also have access to alerts from the Flock cameras.
“They can go in and enter any vehicle that’s associated with a person that maybe is banned from the mall, or an employee they deem as a threat,” Ison said.
Simon properties will be covering the estimated cost of $10,000 per year for all four cameras.
Ison said the plan is to use the four Flock cameras for one year. If the technology proves successful, two more license plate readers could be added to other mall entrances.
In addition to the license plate readers, Greenwood Police and mall officials are planning to upgrade emergency radio communications throughout the property. Ison says the current system has been spotty for years because the system struggles to penetrate the massive amount of steel and concrete throughout the mall property.
Recently, Ison said the radio communications system caused challenges when he and other officers were responding to a accidental shooting inside the mall. During that incident, Ison struggled to communicate with the incident commander on scene.
“The radio traffic was just very sporadic,” Ison said. “I was getting about every third word he said.”
Ison said he is now working with Motorola to install a bi-directional amplifier that will boost radio signals from a new antenna outside the mall to a series of smaller antennas within mall corridors. The result should be better emergency communications throughout the property.
The cost of the new radio system will be roughly $70,000 and Ison said the city of Greenwood will be covering the majority of that, using American Rescue Act funding.
The new radio system could be installed in the next two-to-three months, while the license plate readers could be installed within the next 30 days.
A Simon Properties spokesperson declined to comment on the plans.