License plate cameras could be coming to schools in Fulton County

Those who drive onto a Fulton County Schools campus could soon have their license plate scanned and checked against law enforcement databases to see if they pose a safety risk.

The school board is scheduled to vote Thursday on a $626,300 contract to procure the cameras from Flock Safety, an Atlanta-based company. If approved, Superintendent Mike Looney said, the cameras would be installed at every Fulton school by January.

The automatic license plate readers would take images as vehicles enter the property and allow law enforcement agencies to see if the plates are linked to people suspected of a crime or to someone who has been expelled from the campus, officials said.

“What happens is the notification goes to law enforcement to say that there is a person on campus that doesn’t belong there,” Looney told board members at a recent meeting.

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The district said the cameras will be used to prevent crime and to help officials determine if, for example, a vehicle was at the scene of a crime, if it’s stolen or if it’s “associated with a known suspect.”

“The license plate reading cameras will be used to maintain a safe campus and are not intended for minor traffic or parking violations,” the district said in a written statement.

The devices are widely used in neighborhoods, at hotels and by homeowners associations, where their presence has raised privacy and surveillance concerns.

The district said data from the cameras can be shared with other law enforcement agencies but said it won’t be sold or shared with other third parties. Fulton said the data and camera footage would be “permanently deleted after 30 days.”

In a statement, Looney said: “We are constantly thinking about ways to secure our campuses and protect students and staff, while protecting their privacy.”

The cameras are among about 20 suggestions proposed by a safety committee, which the superintendent reconvened after a mass shooting in May at an Uvalde, Texas, elementary school.

The board next week also will vote on the purchase of exterior door alarms to notify officials when a school door has been propped open or hasn’t fully closed. It will cost about $795,000 to install just over 2,400 of the alarms in elementary, middle and high schools, according to board documents.

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