Lake County Sheriff’s Office purchases 15 license plate reading cameras

Agency joins several other communities in leveraging technology

The Lake County Sheriff’s Office will be joining the growing ranks of entities utilizing license plate reading cameras.

The Lake County Board recently authorized a two-year, $90,000 contract to buy 15 Flock Safety cameras — a first for the sheriff’s office.

Commonly known as license plate readers, the safety cameras are solar-powered, cloud-based software systems shown to reduce crime by capturing evidence and delivering investigative leads, according to the sheriff's office.

Vernon Hills plans to deploy 17 license plate reading cameras to combat organized retail crime

The cameras can identify the body type, make, color, license plate and state, as well as other features like decals, bumper stickers and accessories creating a traceable vehicle “fingerprint” in real time.

“The biggest use of them is locating missing people,” sheriff's Deputy Chief Chris Covelli said during a recent discussion before the approval.

License plate reader credited with an assist in solving Vernon Hills burglary

“How we use this is really valuable when it comes to public safety first and foremost and also for investigating crimes,” he added.

According to the sheriff’s office, a large percentage of crimes occur with “vehicle involvement” and getting license plate information often is the best evidence to help solve them by giving the first investigative leads.

Lake Zurich police to get first body worn cameras and in-car video, replacement Tasers

The readers take images of the entire back of a vehicle and the information has to be used in public safety or in a criminal investigation, Covelli said.

Cameras are mounted on poles and powered by a solar panel connected to a cellular system. They’re used to alert authorities to stolen vehicles, burglary crews, missing persons or those sought in Amber or Silver alerts, for example.

Covelli said the cameras will be located on state rights of way but it was unclear when they will be installed and activated.

License plate readers have been in use in several Lake County communities, beginning with Vernon Hills in October 2020. Covelli said there are 262 cameras already in use by various agencies in Lake County.

“It’s leveraging that technology aspect to help us keep people safe,” he said.

Vernon Hills police say they have had dozens of successes since installing the cameras. One involved locating a doorbell camera image of an offender and his vehicle involved in a home burglary and matching it in the license plate reader database.

According to the sheriff’s office, the cameras were bought through a joint purchasing contract with Flock Safety through an OMNIA Partners Cooperative contract held by Insight Public Sector.

Article Comments
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the "flag" link in the lower-right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.