The Eastpointe City Council voted 4-1 to approve the installation of 18 Flock Safety cameras in the community to aid police in finding stolen cars and suspects in crimes.

The Eastpointe City Council voted 4-1 to approve the installation of 18 Flock Safety cameras in the community to aid police in finding stolen cars and suspects in crimes.

File photo provided by Troy Police Department

City Council votes 4-1 to bring surveillance cameras to Eastpointe

By: Brian Wells | Roseville-Eastpointe Eastsider | Published April 3, 2024


EASTPOINTE — The Eastpointe City Council recently passed a motion to purchase 18 surveillance cameras to install around the city.

At its March 19 meeting, the City Council voted 4-1 to pass the motion, which Police Chief Corey Haines said will help find vehicles that have been reported stolen or may have been involved in homicides, robberies or other violent crimes.

“(The cameras) help us solve crimes by capturing license plate data and holding it for about 30 days,” Haines said. “So if we know of a vehicle that was used in some type of crime, we can enter that information and hopefully find the matching vehicle. … There’s a lot of investigative use for it.”

Flock cameras are automated license plate-reading cameras designed to capture license plate data from vehicles that are in public view. The data, which are kept on file for 30 days, are then shared with not only neighboring jurisdictions, but any police department in the country that has access to the system’s database.

Eastpointe has had access to the database for several years now, Haines said, though the department hasn’t been able to provide any of its own information. The city’s agreement with the company would end on April 1 if the camera system wasn’t approved, he said.

“If we do not install Flock cameras, we will lose our investigative tool of having that to operate with as of April 1, which would be a really difficult thing for our detective bureau, since they rely on this information quite heavily,” he said.

Haines said the city had previously been approved for a grant that he said would cover all but approximately $4,600 of the initial cost of the cameras. Any recurring fees would be presented to the city in its 2025 budget.

In response to Councilman Harvey Curley’s question about using the cameras in intersections to catch drivers speeding, Haines said Michigan has a law that prohibits using license plate readers to gather information that can be used to enforce speed limits and other traffic laws.

Mayor Michael Klinefelt supported the motion to purchase the cameras. He likened the cameras to Project Green Light in Detroit, which is a partnership between local businesses, the city of Detroit and community groups that uses surveillance cameras to attempt to prevent crime and promote neighborhood safety.

“I know in my personal work experience it goes a long way in criminal activity,” he said. “I will note that, during the State of the City, (District Court Judge Kathleen Galen) commented on violent crimes that we’ve had over the past year. For me, I think this is a useful tool.”

Project Green Light began in 2016. A report published by the U.S. Department of Justice’s National Institute of Justice in November 2022, available at, stated there was no significant difference in violent crime between businesses that joined the partnership and those that didn’t. The report stated that Project Green Light “did result in a statistically significant decrease in property crime reports.”

The City Council member to oppose the motion was Cardi DeMonaco Jr., who questioned the increase in surveillance and stored data.

“It’s too much surveillance. … Basically, anytime you come to the city, (it keeps) track of that for 30 days. I think from a personal standpoint, I’m not a huge fan of that.”

DeMonaco also brought up some of the controversy Flock has been involved in. According to a report published by the American Civil Liberties Union in 2023, while license plate readers aren’t new, Flock is the first to create a nationwide “mass-surveillance system out of its customers’ cameras.”

While the report states that the ACLU doesn’t object to the use of license plate readers, specifically citing their benefits for retrieving stolen cars, assisting with AMBER alerts and toll collections, the organization opposes the data-retention used by Flock.

“Unlike a targeted (automated license plate recognition) camera system that is designed to take pictures of license plates, check the plates against local hot lists, and then flush the data if there’s no hit, Flock is building a giant camera network that records people’s comings and goings across the nation, and then makes that data available for search by any of its law enforcement customers,” the report states. “Such a system provides even small-town sheriffs access to a sweeping and powerful mass-surveillance tool, and allows big actors like federal agencies and large urban police departments to access the comings and goings of vehicles in even the smallest of towns.”

Holly Beilin, director of communications for Flock, said the company is allowed to legally install and operate cameras in every state, though in South Carolina they aren’t permitted on state-owned rights of way.

“Flock is allowed to legally install and operate cameras in every state — the City Councilman might be referring to South Carolina (Department of Transportation’s) decision to suspend the permitting of (license plate readers) on state rights of way. We continue to operate in South Carolina on non-state (city, county, and private property) rights of way,” she said in an email.

Beilin said in 2023 the company successfully submitted over 25,000 permits. In Michigan, she said they work with over 100 law enforcement agencies.

Besides DeMonaco’s concerns, Haines said there hasn’t been much controversy surrounding the cameras either in Eastpointe or in other agencies where he’s worked.

“The agency is not looking to conduct surveillance on people, just to solve crimes and hold those persons accountable,” he said in an email.

The next step in installing the cameras is pulling necessary permits with the Michigan Department of Transportation and the city of Eastpointe, Haines said. Tentatively, he expects the cameras to be installed around July.

While the department has locations for the cameras planned, the locations still have to be reviewed as part of the permit process, Haines said.