A Wake County judge ordered a preliminary injunction in late October against Flock Safety, the Atlanta-based company that installs cameras for local law enforcement and other entities.
The judge ordered the company not to install any any additional cameras until the court could hear additional arguments from both the North Carolina Alarm Systems Licensing Board and Flock.
The North Carolina Alarm Systems Licensing Board brought the case to court. The board claims that Flock has been operating without a license for years.
Flock argued it is not an “alarm systems business.” The company said an alarm systems business installs cameras used to “detect burglary, breaking or entering, intrusion, shoplifting, pilferage, theft, or other unauthorized or illegal activity.”
“Flock does not install cameras that ‘detect’ any type of crime,” a Flock spokesperson wrote. “Rather, Flock installs cameras that read and record license plates.”
The company spokesperson said Flock cameras are not actively monitored either. Also, the company says it plans “to continue business as usual, installing and servicing cameras, provided that Flock Safety engages a third party that is licensed with the NC Alarm Systems Licensing Board, to supervise or perform such installations or service.”
The Flock spokesperson said the company operates in 5,000 cities across 42 states. It includes Raleigh, Mecklenburg County, Greensboro, Mooresville and dozens of other cities in North Carolina.
“We have never previously been deemed an alarm company, as we work with law enforcement to take the pictures of the back of a car, read the license plate and provide that objective evidence needed to solve crime,” the spokesperson wrote.
However, the University of North Carolina terminated its contract with Flock.
On Thursday, the university issued the following statement .
“The safety of our campus community is our top priority, and installing a license plate reader system is one tool among many we are implementing to continue to improve safety on our campus,” the statement reads. “UNC-Chapel Hill entered into a contract with Flock Safety to install and monitor license plate reader cameras on campus on Sept. 15, 2023.
“On Sept. 30, the counsel for the North Carolina Alarm Systems Licensing Board sent notice to the University that Flock Safety was not licensed to do business in North Carolina. The University’s contract terms and conditions require vendors to comply with North Carolina law and possess all certifications, permits and licenses to practice their profession in North Carolina. As a result, the University terminated its contract with Flock Safety. We remain committed to working with a license plate reader vendor that will help us accomplish our safety goals.”
On Thursday, WRAL News reached out to the North Carolina Alarm Systems Licensing Board with a request for comment. We are waiting to hear back.
In June 2022, Raleigh police installed 25 Flock Safety cameras. The Flock system alerts officers in their patrol cars when one of the cameras recognizes a license plate listed on a local “hot list” and state or federal databases. The cameras have helped catch violent offenders, recover stolen cars, track license plates and find missing children.
Flock Safety said the cameras do not capture faces, only license plates. The company said the data is deleted every 30 days. Also, Flock Safety said it does not sell or give personal information to third parties.