Cranston security cameras keeping us under watch – and keeping us safer


Society has changed – and it’s not going back – at least any time soon. It’s every day that we check our Twitter feed to see what incidents happened over night. Sometimes it’s a tragic fire or car accident, but more often than not it’s acts of violence – shootings, stabbings, car jackings, murders. Providence Mayor Elorza is fond of saying that crime is down in the capital city; there are less shootings in Providence than in many years, but the shootings are more deadly. And that’s true. A shooting with 1, 2, 3 bullets is now more commonly a shooting done with a spray of bullets – 24 casings, 20 casings, 40 casings littering the neighborhood.

A few weeks ago Cranston was one of 3 cities in Rhode Island to begin an experiment with the Flock license plate photo community camera program. Cranston became the temporary owners of over 30 in the city in this experiment. City residents raised a bit of a ruckus that it was done without notifying the residents. There was even a special city council meeting.

The cameras take photos which are looked at in real time. The program identifies cars with stolen plates. Photos of people are not captured, and permanent archives are not kept.

Two nights ago there was an incident at Motel 6 in Warwick – one that began with a carjacking of a Cranston couple. The couple was assaulted, with a 9-month pregnant woman being hit in the face and her husband hit at least 3 times in the back of the head – with a gun.

Their car was stolen and the entire incident unfolded a short time later in the Motel 6 in Warwick, with 2 very young children and other adults in the room. There was no violence in the arrest of the suspects.

How did the capture take place? How did the police get a jump on capturing the two suspects?

Enter the Flock system. Cranston Police captain Winquist said, “it exceeded our expectations” as he talked about not only this incident but others – stolen cars and plates that were facilitated with the new technology.

From their website:

Don’t capture faces. Capture license plates.

Over 70% of crime occurs with a vehicle, so Flock Safety is able to capture vehicles traveling up to 100 MPH and up to 75 ft away—day and night. Police say a license plate is the best evidence to solve crime. It’s public information on a public road, and it gives your local police the first investigative lead they need to solve crime.

Sometimes the ends justifies the means. In this case we say – welcome to your new home, Flock system, we hope you stay. In our concerning new world you seem to be just what we need – for now. Maybe that will change, but usually it’s harder to remove something than prevent it in the first place.


Police report involving the Cranston couple and the Flock system involvement:

Our story on August 19th… “ – ACLU: Surveillance cameras in Cranston, Pawtucket, Woonsocket clandestine and concerning: