‘A good solid lead’: Liberty Lake Police test new technology to recover stolen vehicles, curb crime

LIBERTY LAKE, Wash. — The Liberty Lake Police Department is taking new measures to protect your car from thieves.

The Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs says car theft is up 88 percent. Liberty Lake police think they can help.

The department is installing cameras at locations throughout the city to catch criminals coming in or trying to leave.

“It provides a lot more resources for us,” said Darin Morgan, the Lieutenant with the Liberty Lake Police.

With these cameras, police have more eyes across the city. They’re trying out a system called Flock, which are cameras created to capture license plates.

“The specifics of the Flock system, it actually has an ability to just hone in on that license plate and read it and provide a good solid lead for you with the vehicle and who the owner might be,” he said.

Law enforcement can program the system to look for specific vehicles by color, model, make and other identifiers. It snaps a photo and sends a notification to police with a location, so they can intercept the vehicle before it’s gone.

“It gives you the ability to check on a stolen vehicle, vehicles that may be of interest to the police department,” Morgan said.

These types of cameras aren’t without controversy.

The ACLU says they’d like to see more government regulation when it come to systems like this. It’s concerned about how long the pictures are stored and what they’re ultimately used for.

In May, Liberty Lake Police recovered seven stolen vehicles, in part because of this technology. Lieutenant Morgan says it’s not only helping with investigations in their city but throughout the Inland Northwest.

“We have the ability with these camera systems now to help find those vehicles that are stolen and help identify them and try to recover them for other agencies as well,” he said.

The department says the cameras are motion activated and record almost every driver, storing photos for a month before being deleted.

This is just a trial period for these cameras, and more are still being installed throughout the city. Police say it’s helping them solve more crimes.

READ: ‘We’re ramping up’: Law enforcement officers out in full force for Hoopfest weekend