The North Royalton City Council has asked for legislation to allow for the lease and installation of ten surveillance cameras, after they voted against a similar measure earlier this year, asking for fifteen cameras. The measure was first discussed originally in the Council Safety Committee meeting, then forwarded onto the City Council agenda. It was then sent back to the Safety Committee for further discussion. The final discussion took place on April 19, where Council voted against the measure.
North Royalton Police Chief, Keith Tarase, brought the measure back for discussion at the November 15 Safety Committee meeting, where Deputy Chief Robert Swanson, Middleburg Heights, gave a talk regarding his experience with the Flock cameras. His city has 17 installed, which have been up and running for seven months. He said it has been helpful in crimes of stolen cars and domestic violence, and had helped in solving a murder. He pointed out that alerts can also be programmed for sex offenders, violent persons and warrants. “You can pick and choose what alerts you can get,” he said. A representative from Flock was also in attendance to answer questions.
The Cloud-based Flock Safety system is designed to take and store two photos of each vehicle that passes under its camera, one of the back of the vehicle for vehicle recognition and the other of the license plate. The pictures, date, time and location are then stored on a server by a firm that Flock Safety has contracted. During that time, agencies who subscribe to the Flock Safety system can access that information, according to Tarase.
In April, Council defeated the legislation that would allow for the installation and leasing of 15 plate-reading cameras.. The measure went down 4-2, with Ward 1 Council Representative John Nickel and Ward 3 Council Representative Joanne Krejci casting the only affirmative votes. Ward 4 Council Representative Jeremy Dietrich was absent. The ordinance was introduced by Ward 6 Rep Mike Wos and Ward 4 Rep Jeremy Dietrich at the March 15 meeting, that would have authorized the Mayor to enter into a 24-month agreement with Flock Falcon Cameras, Installation and Professional Services for fifteen Flock Falcon Cameras, for an annual amount not to exceed $41,250,00, and an annual cost of $37,500,00.
Back in the spring, Tarase noted that they originally wanted 26, but then reduced it to fifteen. He said that with North Royalton being 21.33 square miles, that going to a smaller number would not be effective. “It would be hit or miss as to solving a crime.” When asked now why the ten would be effective, Tarase stated that “I believe that reducing the number of cameras reduces some benefits from the system. Ten cameras are less effective than fifteen, but more effective than none. I believe that the addition of these cameras will be a valuable asset in solving crime, justifying possible additional cameras in the future.”
Mayor Larry Antoskiewicz previously concurred with Tarase, stating that it would be an ineffective alternative. When asked now why he thought ten cameras would be effective, Antoskiewicz stated “I guess the Chief came to me and said that he could work with the ten. He really believes that once people see how they work, he could make it work with ten. It’s not perfect, but it makes a start.”
Council voted to allow for legislation to be forthcoming. According to Tarase, the ten cameras would cost the city $28,500 first year, then, a recurring $25,000 yearly. The contract would be for a two-year period. It is expected to take between eight and twelve weeks to install.
By GLORIA PLEVA KACIK