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New devices installed in Urbandale to help prevent crime

"The system has no facial recognition in it," Ofc. Holly Pickett said of the Flock Safety cameras. "It has no idea who is driving the vehicle.

URBANDALE, Iowa — The city of Urbandale is working to make their city safer by installing new devices called Flock Safety cameras.

These are automatic license plate readers and will be used to help their police department solve more crimes.

"It also runs license plates through our National Crime Information System," Ofc. Holly Pickett, the Urbandale PD public information officer, said.

Pickett said the new technology will help aid them in catching stolen vehicles, or vehicles associated with people who have a warrant. The system takes photos of a car's license plate, and if that plate comes back stolen or with a warrant, it triggers an alert. 

A tip is then sent to one of the officers working on the street. This tip includes the color, make and model of the vehicle along with the location and direction the car was traveling.  

The devices were installed this month and have already run two million license plates within the city limits. 

Pickett said this has already led to eight arrests so far. The most recent incident happened last week.

"A pursuit that ensued a couple of days ago was in reference to someone that had active warrants for their arrests and that triggered that system for us. We had to stop the pursuit, but that suspect was picked up by another agency that knew to look for that specific vehicle."

Pickett said the device also helps cut down on biases.

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"The system has no facial recognition in it," she said. "It has no idea who is driving the vehicle. It's looking solely for the registered owner or the information on the license plate of every single vehicle that travels through that intersection or past that location."

There are 20 Flock Safety devices in Urbandale. Ten of them are on loan from the company and will be gone once the trial period is over. 

Pickett provided a list of where the devices are, which can be found below:

  • 86th St at Plum Dr southbound 
  • 86th St at Hickman Rd northbound 
  • 86th St at Colby Pkwy southbound 
  • 86th St at Douglas Ave northbound 
  • NW Urbandale Dr at I-35
  • Meredith Dr at 112th St eastbound 
  • Douglas Ave at 62nd St westbound 
  • Douglas Ave at109th St eastbound
  • 100th St at Douglas Ave northbound 
  • 109th St at Douglas Ave northbound 
  • 100th St at Hickman Rd northbound 
  • 100th St at Douglas Ave southbound 
  • 70th St at Monroe Ct northbound 
  • Meredith Dr at 70th St westbound 
  • NW Aurora Ave at 64th St westbound
  • Hickman Rd at Colby Woods Dr westbound 
  • 73rd at Hickman Rd northbound
  • 104th at Hickman northbound
  • NW 100th St at I-35 southbound
  • 70th at Hickman Rd northbound

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