License plate readers to be installed across Katy

22 license plate readers will be added this spring to the Katy area.

Katy City Council approved the Katy Police Department’s request at its January 27 meeting.

Police say the readers will help increase its crime-fighting arsenal that will be added mostly in the business district and inside some neighborhoods. The License Plate Readers are used to augment for maximum visibility and to add additional eyes in the community.

The readers capture the back of license plates and offer many options to the department. The readers using artificial intelligence can identify the make, model, and color of the car, use infrared to capture license plates at night, catch paper tags and distinguish that a plate is from out of state.

The readers are part of the police department's services agreement with Flock Safety. The two-year contract costs $46,000 with readers at $2,000 apiece.

All of the data recorded stays within Flock, which is the database that was chosen by the department to work with. Flock doesn’t look at, sell, or share any of the info recorded. Access to the footage is not allowed without written permission from Katy PD. The footage is not constantly monitored by police and is instead used as a resource to find the criminals who broke the law.

Footage from the cameras is stored for 30 days in a cloud and then is deleted permanently.

License Plate Readers only capture the back of the vehicles because they are more likely to capture the full license plates and the emblems (if any) on the car are easier to see. They can also see any identifiers that are on the car itself – such as, magnets, stickers, or things in the back windshield.

Chief Diaz gave an example of a recent armed robbery suspect in the Greater Houston area. The department had a lead and one its detectives starting rolling through the images from the one camera/reader installed on Katy Mills Drive. That information led to solving a crime said the chief.

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