Rock Island City Council approves automated license plate readers

Published: Feb. 27, 2023 at 11:28 PM CST
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ROCK ISLAND, Ill. (KWQC) - The Rock Island City Council unanimously approved using COVID-19 relief funds to buy and operate license plate reading cameras around the city at Monday night’s meeting.

A $120,950 plan uses American Rescue Plan Act funds in an agreement for the city to use the system. The automated license plate readers provided by Georgia-based Flock Safety can track warrants and stolen vehicles automatically.

According to a Freedom of Information Act request, Rock Island saw a total of 204 car thefts in 2022.

Police Chief Richard Landi said he’s hopeful the system can help in other connected crimes.

“The other thing that’s been a troubling trend ... last year, in particular, we noticed the stealing of cars, and then using them in other crimes,” Landi said. “For instance, our shootings ... This is just one more thing to help us hopefully catch or deter these activities from ever occurring.”

City council documents show plans for at least two license plate readers at the base of the Centennial Bridge and 19 others throughout the city.

The city will join others like East Moline, Silivs, and Milan in Illinois to use this technology to fight crime.

In Iowa, Camanche implemented the same system last April Police Chief Richard Schmitz said it’s helped track down at least 2 stolen trailers and one stolen car.

“Just being aware that these are out there is a deterrent effect in itself,” Schmitz said. “On a lot of our investigations, we’re getting a little bit of a higher clearance rate on them. We’re able to hold these people accountable for this stuff. That’s the benefit to the city.

As Flock expands through the Quad City Area, Landi said it benefits every community.

“Crime is transient,” Landi said. “It doesn’t stay in one city, it moves from place to place. It’s very important for us to be able to do that and work together and share that information.”

While some residents might be concerned about privacy, Landi said the information will be used for ongoing investigations. The company also claims recordings are deleted after 30 days.

“If we’re looking, we’re just not randomly just checking cars,” Landi said. “There’s going to be a reason for it, and every time we do run a check, you have to attach it to a case number.”

According to Landi, Rock Island County Sheriff’s Department is also looking at implementing the Flock system as well.