Flock Safety license plate reader

Pictured is a Flock Safety license plate reader.

As early as February, the Sandy Springs Police Department could have 99 more tools at its disposal to combat crime.

The department is planning to rent 99 license plate readers to be installed on Georgia Power utility poles across the city, adding to the 15 already in the city (12 are owned or leased by the city and the police and the rest are privately owned). The readers, which have special cameras, are posted at intersections and mounted on police cars to take photos of vehicles’ license plates.

“They’re strategically placed … with our neighbors in Roswell and Dunwoody so they’re placed near the entrances to (bordering) neighborhoods,” City Attorney Dan Lee said of the ones the city has proposed adding.

At the Sandy Springs City Council’s Oct. 15 work session at City Springs, Deputy Police Chief Keith Zgonc gave a presentation on the department’s plan. Since the council’s retreat in January, Zgonc said the police have been planning to use technology to reduce crime.

According to city documents, the department currently has 15 readers made by Flock, one of two companies it will get more readers from. Under the plan, the city will lease 57 Genetec readers and 42 Flock readers from Georgia Power, which will mount them on utility poles at strategic locations all over the city at a cost of $39,000 a month.

When asked by District 1 Councilman John Paulson where the readers would be installed, Zgonc said the department has “some good ideas on” their locations but nothing finalized yet.

District 5 Councilman Tibby DeJulio then asked, “Will these be on ramps from 285 or 400 and Roswell Road so we can identify these (stolen) cars and be proactive (about crime) and not reactive?”

In response, Zgonc said “The plan is to put them on the roadways. We’ll have them down near Roswell Road and Windsor Parkway. I don’t know if we’ll able to put them on the highways. It depends on where Georgia Power has poles.”

Since June 21, when the city notified all private reader owners on sharing information collected, and since August, when the 15 readers the department has were installed, the readers have already helped solved some crimes.

According to city documents, there have been 65 felony charges and 33 misdemeanor charges filed against suspects based on evidence the readers captured. Six stolen vehicles and one stolen license tag were recovered.

“Probably the biggest (case) we solved was someone stealing packages from homes,” Zgonc said. “With the (readers’) cameras we were able to make an arrest and retrieve property.”

When asked after the meeting if the readers to be added were worth the cost, Police Chief Ken DeSimone said, “Absolutely, based on the crime prevention and the product and the crimes solved already.”

The new readers could be approved at the council’s next meeting Nov. 5. With the council’s approval, the lease contract can be signed and the readers are expected to go live within 90 days of the signing, Zgonc said.

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