The City of Gardendale held a town meeting last night to introduce representatives from a company named Flock Safety that sells and maintains camera systems for cities and neighborhoods. The camera systems, as they apply to residential use, are typically installed at exit points to neighborhoods, but can be installed at any area that needs to be monitored. The camera system is solar panel powered.
The focus is on neighborhoods with established HOA’s (Homeowner Associations), but there was one Gardendale resident present at the meeting to show support for the camera system that lives in a neighborhood without an HOA. To get the support to have the system installed where he lives, he had to visit neighbors to discuss the need for the camera and had a Zoom call with representatives of Flock Safety to present the concept to his neighbors. Those Gardendale residents decided to move forward and install the system.
The camera system takes an image of each car and license plate that crosses its vision. Some residents at the meeting were concerned about the privacy to residents, but others had concerns about how the information would be used by the Gardendale Police Department.
As the camera system captures the license plate of a car, it will alert the Gardendale Police Department if the car has been reported stolen or has been tied to a felony warrant or other crimes.
Detective Buddy Partridge serves as Gardendale Police Department’s liaison to Flock Safety. He spoke at length during the 90-minute meeting in support of the system saying that Gardendale has tested 11 cameras in strategic positions over a 2-year period.
Detective Partridge expressed that at one point, the police department had a camera installed at both entrances and exit points of the Gardendale Walmart and that very soon after installing the cameras the department was alerted to a stolen car that had been detected. Detective Partridge said the police department was able to make an arrest that it would have never known about without the camera in place. He stated the camera system has led to many arrests and that it had become a very valuable tool for he and his fellow officers in helping to solve crimes.
Detective Partridge encouraged residents to seriously consider installing the camera system within their neighborhoods, but that it should be used in conjunction with a homeowner’s personal home video safety devices as well.
The camera systems come with a cost. For a system that sends alerts to the Gardendale Police Department in real time, neighborhoods would invest $2,400 per camera, per year with a one-time $350 implementation fee. Maintenance and installation are included.
Mayor Stan Hogeland was present at the meeting and expressed that he had been asked by a Mount Olive resident if neighborhoods there, since it is unincorporated, would be able to share the alerts and information with the Gardendale Police Department.
Detective Partridge and Flock Safety representatives present confirmed that Mount Olive residents could share the information with the Gardendale Police Department and that it was simply a matter of giving that permission when signing up.
While in the early stages of discussion, there were several representatives from Gardendale neighborhoods at the meeting last night and it is evident that HOA’s and others in Gardendale and Mount Olive are taking a hard look at installing them.