Published: July 17, 2023

The CU Boulder Police department is launching a new program to help deter and investigate crime. Solar-powered Flock Safety cameras are popping up on poles in strategic locations on campus to help police respond more quickly to the presence of suspicious vehicles. About a dozen cameras will be deployed by the start of fall semester. 

Stock image of Flock Safety camera

Stock image of a Flock Safety camera

The cameras capture still pictures of cars and license plates, not images of drivers, as cars enter campus property. The plate images provide a tool to prompt investigations, notifying police of stolen cars, cars connected to felony crimes or other vehicles of concern that may be connected to wanted suspects or endangered people.

“This tool certainly has the potential to have a tremendous impact on our efforts to keep campus safe,” said CUPD Commander Eric Edford, adding, “We already work with campus partners like Parking and Transportation Services to identify vehicles of concern, but this technology helps us step up our efforts to initiate more proactive investigations.” 

CUPD has strict policies governing the use of the license plate reader technology, limiting how police can utilize the information they gather. The cameras do not use facial recognition technology, nor do they serve as “red light” cameras or speed checks for traffic enforcement. Flock Safety auto-deletes all data not used in investigations every 30 days to preserve the privacy of law-abiding citizens.

“CUPD conducts continuous research on new tools to help us fight crime, and Flock Safety is one more thing we can utilize to provide information to officers quickly while also ensuring privacy,” said Assistant Vice Chancellor for Public Safety and Chief of Police Doreen Jokerst. 

When the camera identifies a match with a plate in a law enforcement database, it sends a notification to CUPD emergency dispatchers, who can make officers aware of the vehicle’s location. This enhances officers’ ability to intervene quickly in investigating auto theft, domestic violence, stalking or other crimes.

Other Boulder County law enforcement agencies also utilize the technology, which was recently lauded for helping investigate a car theft and drug ring, resulting in eight indictments.