AI cameras helped Missouri police arrest getaway driver

AI-enhanced cameras helped police in Blue Springs, Missouri, arrest the getaway driver of a recent crime. Flock Safety claims its tech can identify cars without the use of license plate numbers.
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(Getty Images)

Police in Blue Springs, Missouri, last week arrested a getaway driver connected to a homicide committed in early April, thanks to the help of the city’s AI-enhanced camera system that allows police to search for vehicles without a license plate number.

The camera systems, made by Atlanta public safety firm Flock Safety are stationed at high-traffic intersections and public spaces, such as parks. The cameras photograph passing vehicles and assign them descriptors, like color, make, model or even car accessories like a bumper stickers or roof racks.

Alex McIntyre, a police officer in Blue Springs, said those extra details are helpful when there’s not as much initial information to go on.

“A lot of times our citizens may call in and their car may have been broken into in the middle of the night while they were sleeping or they had something stolen and maybe their Ring doorbell only shows a red sedan,” said McIntyre, who has been on the police force for 13 years. “They think there’s no way an officer is gonna be able to have an investigative lead on that.”


He said the most frequent vehicular crimes the department encounters involve burglary and theft, which are often difficult to pursue without more definitive information, such as a license plate number. But the addition of AI cameras has given police a new way to track down even the smallest leads.

“It’s really nice when you can show up and say, ‘Hey, we actually do have a tool that may be able to identify the vehicles involved or find a license plate.’ So we’re getting a lot more leads on things that we wouldn’t have before,” McIntyre said. “We’re always trying to look for the newest technology and make sure our officers have the best equipment available to help protect our citizens.”

Police can also narrow their vehicle searches by using locations or times to obtain photos of every vehicle matching their search terms. The software also allows police to receive alerts when cars matching their searches are spotted, which is what happened last Wednesday when the camera system captured a vehicle matching the description of the car that had fled the scene of the early April homicide. It alerted a patrol car in the area, whose officers apprehended the driver, according to KOMU.

McIntyre said the real-time alerts are especially helpful because the vehicle in question is often associated with other criminal activity.

“We know that some of those same criminals are probably also committing other crimes with that vehicle, like in our business district that has some of our shopping centers and stuff,” he said. “And so we’re getting alerted to able to stop them apprehend them before they commit more crimes.”


There are roughly 52 AI-enhanced cameras stationed around Blue Springs, which were installed at the beginning of 2023. More are being installed around the Kansas City metro area, according to a representative from Flock Safety, who told StateScoop the company partners with more than 160 law enforcement agencies in Missouri and 5,000 nationwide.

The data captured from the cameras is designed only to be accessible for 30 days, after which it’s deleted. McIntyre said that’s because the technology is just meant to be an investigative tool.

“Time is kind of the essence here,” he said. “If we have someone who comes to us to report a crime that happened six months ago, we’re definitely not going to have any data, and I don’t even bother conducting any searches there unless we have something to go on.”

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