Nags Head to install license plate readers in town

Published 5:16 pm Tuesday, October 3, 2023

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

The Nags Head Police Department is implementing 12 license plate readers at all entrances to the town – a technology that Police Chief Perry Hale said takes the town to a “new level for law enforcement.”

The town had agreed to purchase cameras from Vigilant Solutions over a three-year period, but Chief Hale proposed leasing the cameras from an Atlanta, Georgia based company called Flock Safety. This would allow the department to install all 12 cameras during the first year.

The total cost to operate the license plate readers under Flock Safety over a four-year period is $151,800. Flock Safety would maintain the equipment. The budget amendment was approved unanimously by commissioners at the September regular meeting.

Get the latest headlines sent to you

The advanced technology can not only capture license plate numbers, but the software can read the make and models of vehicles, the vehicle colors, and even detect details like bumper stickers or window decals. Of the demonstration he received from Flock Safety, Hale said to commissioners “it was absolutely amazing … that they can get that specific and narrow.”

Beyond vehicle identification, the technology allows the police department to search and request access from other law enforcement agencies or even private entities. There is an HOA in Nags Head that uses Flock Safety; they could share their data with the police department and allow the police access to their cameras.

According to the chief, Dare and Camden counties already have a contract with Flock Safety, and Pasquotank and Currituck counties are also considering agreements. Areas in southeast Virginia and other locations to the southwest and west of the Outer Banks already have the cameras up and running. Nags Head Police Department could have access to the data of these organizations as well.

The web-based service would allow officers to log on via computers in their patrol cars or desktops. “If we create a custom hotlist, if something triggers that, [the information gets to the computer] within 10 to 12 seconds of that vehicle passing,” Hale said.

The company’s website said that data is stored then deleted after 30 days “for privacy and security purposes.”

The company states that all images and metadata is encrypted throughout its entire lifecycle, from on-device to storage in the cloud and all CJIS data is stored in the AWS GovCloud and is only available to Law Enforcement agencies. “No CJIS data is shared with non-Law Enforcement Flock Safety Customers,” according to the Flock Safety website.