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Council Set to Approve More License Plate Reader Cameras


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By Jorge Casuso

April 16, 2024 -- Santa Monica is poised to triple the number of Automated License Plate Reader (ALPR) cameras mounted on light poles under a proposal the City Council is expected to approve Tuesday.
Flock LAPR camera

"The 54 new stand-alone, solar-powered cameras supplement the 25 fixed ALPR cameras installed in the Downtown and Pier areas, according to a staff report.

"These cameras have been instrumental in producing investigatory leads and solving numerous robbery, murder, burglary, and other property crimes cases, which otherwise would not have had successful outcomes," staff wrote.

The cameras will be leased under a proposed $494,100 agreement with Flock Safety, which will install, maintain and support the system through 2026.

The funding will come from a $6.125 million grant to the Police Department from the Board of State and Community Correction (BSCC) to combat organized retail theft ("SMPD Gets Over $6 Million to Combat Retail Theft," September 18, 2023) .

To accept te grant, SMPD must establish a Real Time Crime Center (RTCC) "to reduce, detect, and deter Organized Retail Theft (ORT), vehicle theft, and catalytic converter theft," according to the staff report.

The "SMART Center," located in the Public Safety Facility, "aims to be the central hub" for a comprehensive technology network that will "support not only SMPD investigative efforts, but real-time applications for other City departments as well."

The Center will include multimedia components that include video displays, video distribution devices and operator consoles, according to staff.

The Council's approval of the grant allows SMPD to contract with Flock Safety for the additional (ALPR) cameras, which would be a component of the Smart Center.

"Despite the City’s relatively small existing ALPR network, the system frequently detects stolen vehicles within Santa Monica," staff said.

"However, SMPD currently lacks the ability to vet and act on these detections in real-time and as a result the Department’s efforts to locate and recover these vehicles has been frustrated."

If the City decides to extend the contract with Flock Safety, the estimated annual subscription cost for the service is $189,000 for the 54 cameras.

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