High-tech cameras helping Greater Cincinnati police solve crimes

High-tech cameras are going up all around Greater Cincinnati, giving police a constant extra set of eyes on the road. The technology has been working in the background for years, helping departments like Cincinnati police solve high-profile cases and everyday crimes. Now, more suburban districts are getting on board and investing in the technology. Last summer and into the fall, WLWT reported extensively on a string of thefts involving juveniles and teenagers. Police departments from north of Dayton through northern Kentucky reported juveniles as young as 13 years old were stealing cars, often leading police on dangerous high-speed pursuits when they attempted to stop them. Home videos showed cars and SUVs being stolen right out of driveways. In October, a Boone County Sheriff’s deputy was hit while deploying stop sticks. The car was stolen and teenagers were inside. “It was every day these cars were being stolen, multiple cars. I mean there was one day we had three cars stolen within an hour period of time,” Blue Ash Police Chief Scott Noel said. Looking to crack down quickly, Noel started testing Flock safety cameras. The automatic license plate reading cameras scan every passing vehicle. When a stolen car is detected, they alert the police. It only takes 15 seconds.Noel said it made an impact immediately. “We would not have arrested them so quickly had it not been for Flock,” he said. Blue Ash police have 35 cameras that have been up and running for more than six months. They have helped solve dozens of crimes and recover dozens of stolen cars. “We certainly have kinda titled the tide a little bit,” Noel said. “They just do not understand why they’ve been in Blue Ash 30 seconds and there’s a police car behind them already.” Local departments tell WLWT that the cameras are not used to catch people for minor offenses or parking tickets.Hamilton Township and Golf Manor police departments recently installed the cameras. Madeira police are planning to install Flock cameras soon. Flock Safety spokeswoman Holly Beilin said the company, based out of Atlanta, is seeing growing interest in Ohio. “We’re helping police across the country solve crimes every single day,” Beilin said. “What police have told us time and time again is that suspects in crime do not respect jurisdictional boundaries. Seven to ten crimes actually involve a vehicle.” In Cincinnati, the technology has been helping police close cases for about 15 years but through a different company, Motorola Vigilant. “We were one of the first I would in the Midwest to try them out,” said Heather Whitton, CPD’s Senior Computer Programmer Analyst. “This technology played a huge part in the Patrick Wolterman firefighter investigation,” Whitton said. Wolterman was a Hamilton firefighter who fell through a house floor while fighting a fire in 2015. The fire was intentionally set. Whitton said one of Cincinnati police’s license plate reader cameras lead investigators to two suspects who were both later found guilty. “They identified a vehicle that was not from the area, looked into that vehicle a little more and realized that it was from out of town,” Whitton said. She testified in the trial.The technology helped police solve a high-profile homicide in 2017 when a bartender was shot and seriously hurt leaving Lachey’s in Over-the-Rhine on Thanksgiving morning 2017.Cincinnati police use mobile, stationary and portable LPR cameras to solve crimes ranging from package thefts to homicides.For the first time, starting this month, the technology is being used for data collection in a district three traffic safety blitz. “We want to be able to track if we’re having an impact in this area, so we can look at that data and see if we’re actually slowing people down,” District Three Captain Dave Johnston said. “It’s about quality of life in the neighborhood.”

High-tech cameras are going up all around Greater Cincinnati, giving police a constant extra set of eyes on the road.

The technology has been working in the background for years, helping departments like Cincinnati police solve high-profile cases and everyday crimes. Now, more suburban districts are getting on board and investing in the technology.

Last summer and into the fall, WLWT reported extensively on a string of thefts involving juveniles and teenagers. Police departments from north of Dayton through northern Kentucky reported juveniles as young as 13 years old were stealing cars, often leading police on dangerous high-speed pursuits when they attempted to stop them.

Home videos showed cars and SUVs being stolen right out of driveways.

In October, a Boone County Sheriff’s deputy was hit while deploying stop sticks. The car was stolen and teenagers were inside.

“It was every day these cars were being stolen, multiple cars. I mean there was one day we had three cars stolen within an hour period of time,” Blue Ash Police Chief Scott Noel said.

Looking to crack down quickly, Noel started testing Flock safety cameras. The automatic license plate reading cameras scan every passing vehicle. When a stolen car is detected, they alert the police. It only takes 15 seconds.

Noel said it made an impact immediately.

“We would not have arrested them so quickly had it not been for Flock,” he said.

Blue Ash police have 35 cameras that have been up and running for more than six months. They have helped solve dozens of crimes and recover dozens of stolen cars.

“We certainly have kinda titled the tide a little bit,” Noel said. “They just do not understand why they’ve been in Blue Ash 30 seconds and there’s a police car behind them already.”

Local departments tell WLWT that the cameras are not used to catch people for minor offenses or parking tickets.

Hamilton Township and Golf Manor police departments recently installed the cameras. Madeira police are planning to install Flock cameras soon.

Flock Safety spokeswoman Holly Beilin said the company, based out of Atlanta, is seeing growing interest in Ohio.

“We’re helping police across the country solve crimes every single day,” Beilin said. “What police have told us time and time again is that suspects in crime do not respect jurisdictional boundaries. Seven to ten crimes actually involve a vehicle.”

In Cincinnati, the technology has been helping police close cases for about 15 years but through a different company, Motorola Vigilant.

“We were one of the first I would in the Midwest to try them out,” said Heather Whitton, CPD’s Senior Computer Programmer Analyst.

“This technology played a huge part in the Patrick Wolterman firefighter investigation,” Whitton said.

Wolterman was a Hamilton firefighter who fell through a house floor while fighting a fire in 2015. The fire was intentionally set. Whitton said one of Cincinnati police’s license plate reader cameras lead investigators to two suspects who were both later found guilty.

“They identified a vehicle that was not from the area, looked into that vehicle a little more and realized that it was from out of town,” Whitton said.

She testified in the trial.

The technology helped police solve a high-profile homicide in 2017 when a bartender was shot and seriously hurt leaving Lachey’s in Over-the-Rhine on Thanksgiving morning 2017.

Cincinnati police use mobile, stationary and portable LPR cameras to solve crimes ranging from package thefts to homicides.

For the first time, starting this month, the technology is being used for data collection in a district three traffic safety blitz.

“We want to be able to track if we’re having an impact in this area, so we can look at that data and see if we’re actually slowing people down,” District Three Captain Dave Johnston said. “It’s about quality of life in the neighborhood.”

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