Yakima Police say they welcome new cameras that read license plates and help them catch wanted criminals. But local authorities say similar cameras have been in use for years in Yakima Police patrol vehicles.

The new cameras are mounted in undisclosed locations around the city

The city now has 22 special cameras mounted at specific locations around the city to find wanted criminals. They're called Flock Safety cameras that Flock officials say "capture license plates and vehicle characteristics, not people or faces." They work in real time and send alerts to officers when a stolen car or known wanted felony suspect vehicle from a state or national crime database enters or leaves an area. They can also send real-time alerts if a vehicle associated with a missing person in an AMBER or Silver Alert is announced. The $130,000 cost for the cameras was funded by money from the American Rescue Plan Act.Capt. Jay Seely says the cameras are invaluable to officers fighting crime on the streets and recently helped police find a suspect wanted for kidnapping a 6-year-old Yakima girl.

License plate reader cameras have been used for years in patrol vehicles

Seely says similar cameras are already in use and have been used for years in Yakima.
Seely says many police patrol cars have been equipped with the license plate readers for years and they've helped officers find many wanted criminals and stolen vehicles. Having the cameras mounted in specific areas of the city is already helping police because Seely says many gang members who live in the lower Yakima Valley commit crimes in Yakima and then flea to other areas. Seely says the cameras help police with intelligence information that could lead to an arrest or arrests.

The new cameras come with a new force to help officers battle crime

Along with the new cameras came a new relationship with the FBI last year. The FBI Safe Streets Task Force is now operating in Yakima.
The task force concentrates on gang crime and is operated by FBI officials along with representatives from the Yakima Police Department, the Yakima County Sheriff's Office, the Washington State Patrol and the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

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