Flock Safety cameras possibly coming to Clawson

By: Taylor Christensen | Royal Oak Review | Published April 19, 2024

 The Clawson Police Department has been looking into placing four Flock Safety Falcon cameras along the major roadways into the city to help it solve crimes.

The Clawson Police Department has been looking into placing four Flock Safety Falcon cameras along the major roadways into the city to help it solve crimes.

Photo provided by Clawson Police Chief Kellie Bauss


CLAWSON — At the April 2 Clawson City Council meeting, Chief of Police Kellie Bauss presented a proposal asking the council to consider purchasing four Flock Safety Falcon cameras.

The Flock cameras are a capital improvement project funding request that was submitted in March of 2023 and was included in the adopted 2024 improvement plan.

“A Flock Safety Falcon camera is an automated license plate reader camera that utilizes fingerprint technology to capture vehicle attributes,” Bauss said.

According to Bauss, the cameras are being used statewide in investigations and locating wanted vehicles associated with missing and endangered people. The cameras automatically provide real-time alerts of these stolen or wanted vehicles.

“This technology has been identified as a force multiplier in assisting law enforcement with solving crimes,” she said.

The purchase and installation would be for four Flock Safety Falcon cameras. These cameras are solar powered and mounted typically at the entrances of a city on poles and streetlights, according to a memorandum in the meeting’s agenda packet. The purchase would also include a subscription to the camera system.

A subscription price is based on the contract. Michael Dushane, the territory sales manager for Flock Safety, said the typical subscription is for two years, and under that contract the price won’t change.

The initial acquisition cost for the cameras will be paid through Clawson’s American Rescue Plan Act funds, according to City Manager Joe Rheker, and then the rest of the cost to sustain the system will be factored into the Police Department’s annual budget.

If the cameras get approved, there will be four cameras installed at a cost of $14,600 the first year, including installation fees, and $12,000 for the year following.

Bauss is asking for four cameras to be installed but said 11 would be ideal, considering there are 11 points of entry into Clawson.

“According to the Vehicle Crimes Auto Theft Educational Awareness Report released by the International Association of Chiefs of Police, there is a significant relationship between vehicle crime and subsequent violent crime,” the memo states.

Dushane said the trademarked Vehicle Fingerprint Technology in the cameras scans the license plate and captures the vehicle make, color, type, state of the license plate, and over 20 other vehicle details.

“What is unique about Flock is that if a vehicle did not have a license plate, you can still search by unique features such as the make of the vehicle, the color of the vehicle,” he said. “There are a dozen other ones in terms of a roof rack or a bumper sticker or anything that a victim or eyewitness is able to help describe that they saw with that vehicle.”

The cameras do not measure speed and are not used for any type of traffic enforcement, according to Dushane. The cameras also do not have facial recognition, Dushane said.

The data, or images, automatically delete every 30 days, according to Dushane, and are only brought out by the police if they are actively searching through them.

“Flock does not own the images, the PD owns the images and has access to them,” he said.

“The idea is that we want these cameras at all of the entrances of the city,” Bauss said. “We have 11 entrances in the city of Clawson and we are asking to have four cameras at what we believe are the main entrances, working with an analyst through Flock.”

The analyst from Flock will identify the highest rates of traffic in each of the entrances to find where the Flock cameras should be placed.

City Manager Joe Rheker asked Bauss to clarify how the cameras in the surrounding communities have helped Clawson thus far.

“I think since October of 2022 we have requested assistance on 30 Clawson police investigations, and since July we requested assistance in 15 investigations,” Bauss said. “So I mean, it’s being used more and more and collaborating with other agencies.”

Bauss said that the Troy Police Department has used the Flock system in more than 30 cases that its officers have solved.

“They feel like they would not have been able to solve it if they didn’t have their Flock cameras in their city,” she said.

The Flock system will be available to the department through an application with a specific login for each officer, according to Dushane.

Mayor Paula Millan brought up vandalism and asked about an insurance policy.

“When it comes to vandalism, it is on the PD to pay for that,” Dushane said. “We are open with our police in terms of what the cost would be for fixing certain parts or if it’s a full replacement of it. Our goal is to work with you and have you as a happy customer.”

Other than vandalism, restoration or fixes that the cameras might need due to weather damage or other natural causes or accidents will be paid for by Flock Safety.

Following this discussion, a proposal was to be written up and presented to the council at the next City Council meeting, which occurred April 16, after press time.