January 26 2023

Community Meeting Held: Flock Safety


The City of Ferndale hosted a community meeting on Jan. 25, 2023, to present information about Flock Safety—a tool that has been proposed by the Ferndale Detectives Bureau.

Flock is a public safety operating system that helps cities, schools, and law enforcement agencies in thousands of communities work together to stop crime in a manner designed to protect privacy and mitigate bias. Using solar-powered automatic license plate readers (ALPR) stationed at key intersections throughout the community, Flock captures computer-readable images of license plates that can be accessed solely by detectives working active, high-level cases—such as armed robbery, vehicle theft, and kidnapping.

In a digital Zoom meeting moderated by Ferndale City Manager Joseph Gacioch, representatives from the Ferndale Police Department and Flock Safety delivered information about the technology. Police Captain David Spellman, speaking on behalf of the Detectives Bureau, discussed the value of having access to vehicle information when solving critical cases where time is of the essence. He talked about the safety measures that would be followed, including the fact that imagery is accessible only by detectives investigating active cases, and spoke about the Department's policies and values being absolutely against using technology like this to exploit crimes of poverty—by accessing imagery to seek out vehicles with expired registrations, for example. Flock representatives Laura Ann Holland and Matt Wayne then delivered a short presentation about the technology: what ALPR is and isn't, how it's used, and case studies where it's been employed successfully.

Gacioch followed the presentations with a community comment and Q&A, where citizens posed questions about Flock's cost, the locations of cameras, oversight, and how the Department would ensure that the technology would be used safely. Several shared opinions ranging from concern about civil rights and liberties, particularly for people of color, to trepidation about the concept of video technology in the Ferndale community, to unwavering support for the proposed program and a desire to give detectives the tools they need to solve crimes safely and expediently.

Gacioch ended the discussion with next steps, which include a follow-up community meeting to be held in late February (date and location to be announced).

In the meantime, if you have additional questions or comments about Flock and didn't get to attend or speak at the Jan. 25 meeting, Gacioch encourages you to email him directly at citymanager@ferndalemi.gov.


Jan. 25 community meeting presentation

Jan. 25 community meeting recording