Marshall County will soon have 10 cameras in various locations throughout the county that will be able to recognize license plates thanks to Marshall County Prosecutor Nelson Chipman.

On Tuesday, Prosecutor Chipman and Detective Sergeant Jonathan Bryant with the Sheriff’s Department requested permission to enter into a contract with Flock Security Systems for the installation of 10 license plate readers.

Chipman said the cameras are connected to the NCIC (National Crime Information Center) and IDCS (Indiana Data and Communication System) and will help officers locate vehicles that have been stolen or involved in a crime.   He explained that if a license plate has been entered into the system the cameras can alert police officers on their cell phones when the vehicle is spotted in that location.  It gives officers a much better chance of locating a specific vehicle.

The prosecutor said Mishawaka has the license plate readers and they “played a small role in the baby Mercades case.”  They helped to track the vehicle Justin Miller was driving.

Detective Bryant told the commissioner the cameras are not for traffic enforcement.  He said the cameras can scan a vehicle driving as fast as 100 mph.  Not only do they get the plate information but the vehicle information.  Once the information is uploaded into the system it will notify the Sheriff’s Department if any plate reader in the state or nationwide observes that vehicle.

Chipman said the county has a DEA Forfeiture Fund in the Sheriff’s budget that hasn’t been used and those funds will cover the first year’s cost of $25,000.  He said he may have some deferral funds to assist for the second-year cost of $25,000 but will probably be in to ask for assistance.

Detective Bryant said Flock Safety Systems handles all the installation including the equipment, poles, licensing, and software updates.  He said, “They handle everything.”

Chipman told the commissioners, “If we are in the program, we have access nationwide. I’m confident we will be able to show objective results two years from now.” 

Det. Bryant said Kosciusko County and Warsaw are using the license readers along with South Bend, Mishawaka and St. Joseph County.  He said 40 other agencies in Indiana are using them.

Chipman assured the commissioner that the cameras only view the license plates and makes of vehicles but not the occupants of the vehicle. 

The Marshall County Commissioners were supportive and gave Prosecutor Chipman approval to enter into a contract with Flock Security Systems pending County Attorney Jim Clevenger’s review of the contract.