By CJ Vetter
BUDA – License plate reading cameras from Flock Safety are still in discussion in the city of Buda.
The city council approved the Buda Police Department to apply for a grant to purchase the cameras – yet the council has not fully decided whether or not to purchase the LPRs. Plans for future meetings and public hearings are possible.
If the application is approved, the city of Buda would be able to purchase six of the LPR cameras and install them throughout the city, as well as create a contract with Flock Safety to help manage the data. Once installed, only select members of the BPD would be able to access the information as part of an investigation. Furthermore, any information recorded after a set number of days would be deleted from the servers.
The new cameras by Flock Safety are designed as a way to help prevent vehicle theft alongside detecting stolen vehicles and other crimes. They do this by documenting the plate number and other vehicle details in to a database.
Concerns about privacy and the security of the database has led to discourse on the cameras’ implementation.
However, Flock Safety already has a presence within the Garlic Creek subdivision, as the homeowners association has independently contracted and installed the cameras. Numerous privacy features are included in the functions of the cameras, such as allowing residents to opt-out of having their vehicles being recorded. Currently, the subdivision has six of the new cameras. Data captured by the cameras is then stored within the cloud until requested by the Hays County Sheriff’s Office as part of an investigation. While no partnership has been officially made with the Buda Police Department, Hays County Sheriff’s Office is able to dispatch the BPD.
Since March, the BPD has made presentations to display the benefits of having such cameras utilized in the city and has continued to explain the functions to help reduce the fear surrounding the new technology.
While no agenda has been set yet, the approval of applying for the grant leaves the door open for future action, and possible implementation in the future.