TO CHASE OR NOT TO CHASE: Flock Safety cameras lead to increase in vehicle pursuits


Since their debut in June 2022, the Flock Safety license plate reader cameras in Milledgeville and Baldwin County have helped crack some serious criminal cases. The cameras are now a mainstay in homicide investigations and one of the first things that detectives start asking about at murder scenes. Quite frankly, there'd be fewer unsolved homicides around here if Flock cameras existed in the past.

Furthermore, several dementia/Alzheimer's missing persons have been found in Baldwin County and returned home safely, thanks to Flock. Also, it's now much easier to reunite stolen cars with their owners.


No technology is perfect, however, and all technology has unintended consequences. The Flock cameras have led to a notable increase in vehicle pursuits and high-speed chases, and it's not just a Milledgeville thing.

"(Vehicle pursuits) have increased 60 percent around Atlanta," said Milledgeville Police Department Chief Dray Swicord.

In metro Atlanta, especially, the Flock cameras have helped apprehend murderers, violent criminals and even a mass shooter.

One of the first eye-opening examples around here was in December 2022, when a Flock camera on Ga. 49 first "pinged" a car reported stolen out of Macon and entering Baldwin County. The Baldwin County Sheriff's Office then spotted the car near McCullar-Weaver Road, and a chase began through town. The suspect, a 17-year-old Macon teen, ultimately was arrested, but not before topping 100 miles per hour, swerving across lanes, crashing the car on North Columbia Street, running from law enforcement and attempting to pull out a handgun. A state trooper managed to wrestle the gun away from the suspect, although the outcome could've been much worse, on several fronts.

In a five-day period beginning last Thursday, there were five high-speed chases around Milledgeville and Baldwin County. Included were three juveniles from Putnam County who'd been on a crime spree around the lake before driving to Baldwin County in a stolen Chevrolet Tahoe. The Milledgeville Police Department was "advised" of the vehicle entering the city limits. Stop Sticks were placed along a stretch of road near the North Jefferson Street/Dunlap Road intersection. The Tahoe then came barrelling through, and the Stop Sticks managed to puncture a tire. The vehicle then continued south on Jefferson Street, eventually losing the entire tire. The chase then became extra interesting when the Tahoe traveled directly through the front gate of Georgia Military College and into the ballard...

The ballard

The Tahoe then continued through campus before spinning out and coming to a rest against the side of Usery Hall...

It's important to note that not all high-speed chases these days are a result of Flock Safety "pings," and many of the chases are of the traditional and classic variety, the ones that pre-date Flock Safety. However, much of the increase in high-speed chases can be attributed to the Flock cameras.

Swicord said that his department is being proactive by having more conversations with patrol officers about vehicle pursuit protocol. The MPD has the most stringent "chase policy" out of the different law enforcement agencies around here, and the MPD only chases in certain cases, according to Swicord.

"If the driver is committing certain felonies and in the process of committing other felonies, our (commanding patrol officer on shift) has the ability to authorize a pursuit," he said.

The chief added that the MPD also is purchasing more Stop Sticks...


Overall, however, Swicord said that the Flock cameras "have been great for us."

"Usually, when someone is in a vehicle pursuit, they have already committed a crime and are in the process of committing other crimes," he said. "The boys from Putnam County the other night, they were coming down here to commit more entering autos."

The Baldwin County Sheriff's Office, meanwhile, also has some restrictions on chases, primarily "if the (chase) presents certain risks or dangers to the public," such as "a highly-congested traffic area," according to Maj. Scott Deason.

Like Swicord, Deason is a strong proponent of Flock cameras.

"The benefits of (Flock cameras) have far outweighed the perceived downsides," he said.

Then, there's the Georgia State Patrol, which has rarely seen a high-speed chase it didn't like. State troopers are highly trained in the PIT maneuver, and they're not afraid to use it...


PIT maneuvers are one piece of the MPD's plan, which also includes "intentional contact" with fleeing vehicles. Such was the case at a teen party on Martin Luther King Jr. Drive last July, where two people were shot. In that case, "due to the nature of the call and high pedestrian traffic in the downtown area, Major Boyer, with assistance from Detective Michael Mcleroy, used their patrol vehicles and made forcible contact with the fleeing vehicle to bring it to a stop on North Columbia Street at the intersection of West Thomas Street," according to an incident report.

In terms of PIT maneuvers, those are basically judgment calls, according to Boyer.

"All PIT and intentional contact must have supervisor approval unless the action needs to be taken immediately and there isn’t time to request permission," he said.

The Sheriff's Office, meanwhile, doesn't train its deputies in PIT maneuvers and isn't certified to perform them.

"Nor is that something we ever plan on doing," Deason said.

The United States Department of Justice last year released a report on the topic and "strongly urged law enforcement agencies to reduce high-speed chases in their communities." Added the report: "Agencies should engage with the community on the pursuit policy in multiple ways, including hosting community presentations or attending town hall meetings, offering civilian police academies, engaging with police advisory boards, having discussions with neighborhood watch captains, or reaching out to community stakeholders and city leaders."

The entire DOJ report can be viewed by clicking here.

A total of 493 Georgians were killed in vehicle pursuits between 2001 and 2021, an average of roughly 25 per year. Nationally, roughly 36 percent of those killed were "innocent bystanders," according to the United States Department of Transportation, although the specific percentage for Georgia was not offered.

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Well only 2 people showed up to the county commissioner meeting to oppose the flock cameras. Not even the sheriff showed up for the meeting. wait till the bill for the cameras comes due. the government just gave a grant for the cameras. now were on the hook for the cameras.  25k per camera per year

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