'Game Changer': The technology helping Fort Worth police track down criminals

Fort Worth police are giving credit to a new camera system for helping tip them off to potential criminals.

The Flock camera system started out as a company providing private video security in neighborhoods, but police nationwide now use the cameras for a specific purpose: scanning license plates.

The security system captures images of vehicles and connects them to a license plate reader.

"We now work with over 2,500 cities across the country. The majority of those are law enforcement agencies, and they are reporting to us that they are solving somewhere between 700 and 900 crimes every single day with the use of this technology," said Flock Safety's Josh Thomas.

Fort Worth alone has used the information from the cameras to track down potential criminals.

On Saturday, Fort Worth police received an alert from a Flock Security System that the stolen plates on a car were linked to an aggravated assault.

Police arrested the driver after a chase from east Fort Worth to Oak Cliff.

On August 30, Fort Worth police received an alert from their Flock cameras about a stolen car.

When officers tried to pull over the vehicle, it took off. 

During the chase a passenger in the car sat outside the window firing a shotgun at officers. Eventually, the car crashed at an intersection in Haltom City. The passenger was wanted on three previous charges.

"Flock cameras are cameras we have been able to place in certain high traffic areas throughout the city that will notify officers if it detects a license plate where either a wanted felon is involved, in that vehicle in some way. If the vehicle was stolen. Not for minor offenses, but major offenses like this," said Fort Worth police chief Neil Noakes after the August 30 chase. "The technology has been a game changer. This is a perfect example of that."

The technology was also used in the arrest of a man who allegedly used a drone to try to drop drugs, cell phones and MP3 players at the federal medical prison in Fort Worth.

Law enforcement found surveillance video that showed the suspect with the drone and his red SUV, but couldn't see the license plate.

(U.S. Department of Justice)

"Once they used our devices to identify that key piece of information that really unlocked the case for them to go find that suspect vehicle, find additional pieces of evidence and ultimately make an arrest," said Thomas. 

The people behind the technology say there are limits on what the cameras can do.

"It's very important to understand that these cameras are obtaining vehicle descriptions and license plates, but they are not identifying people. There is no facial recognition. In fact, there is no personal identifying information within Flock," said Thomas.