R’land adds license plate cameras
RIDGELAND — City officials will implement 12 new license plate reading cameras throughout town to help solve crimes following a successful pilot program of eight cameras implemented last year through a Georgia-based company.
On Oct. 19, the Ridgeland Mayor and Board of Aldermen approved the purchase of 12 additional Flock Safety Automated License Plate Reading cameras at the request of Police Chief John Neal.
Currently, the Ridgeland Police Department has eight Flock Safety cameras. The new agreement would bring the total number of Ridgeland PD's Flock Safety cameras to 20.
“We are adding an additional 12 around the city to give us 20 total,” Neal said. “The new locations are still being decided. Our command staff is looking at crime trends and areas around the city where we will get the best use of the cameras' information before we deploy them.”
The agreement was for $33,000, $2,500 per camera as well as a $250 installation fee apiece. The initial term is for 24 months and will include a $30,000 yearly fee to the city. Neal said that the total yearly cost to the city for the 20 total cameras would be $40,000.
Neal said that information gathered from the eight existing cameras has been used to solve several violent crimes including a murder reported in April and to recover stolen vehicles.
“While we don’t track numbers, we have used them to help solve stolen auto cases, aggravated assault cases and they were beneficial In the investigation of the April 2021 murder on I-55 near the Renaissance,” Neal said.
Kyndra Farley of Flock Safety said the Ridgeland Police Department is adding the cameras after seeing much success in the technology's use to solve and reduce crime.
“To proactively prevent crime from occurring in Ridgeland,” Farley said, “the cameras will send a real-time alert to law enforcement when a stolen car or known wanted felony suspect vehicle from a state or national crime database enters the jurisdiction. They can also send real-time alerts if a vehicle associated with a missing person in an AMBER or Silver Alert is detected.”
Neal received approval to enter an agreement with the Georgia-based company last April. The agreement was for eight cameras installed throughout the city, specifically on Pine Knoll Drive and at the north and south ends of the Highland Colony Parkway. Neal described Pine Knoll Drive as a weak area of enforcement that could benefit from increased policing.
Farley said that Flock Safety cameras are in use in more than 1,400 cities across 40 states, and the company works with more than 1,000 police departments. She said they have been shown to reduce crime by up to 70%.