How Spring Branch Independent School District Is Stopping Crime With Flock’s LPR and Audio Detection System
February 5, 2024
Located west of downtown Houston, TX, Spring Branch Independent School District (ISD) covers 44 square miles of suburbs and busy retail and business districts. The area has a small-town feel and is known for great schools and high-quality education, but it is close to a major metropolitan area. The district’s goal is to ensure students and staff have a safe environment that enhances learning.
When new Spring Branch ISD Police Chief Larry Baimbridge joined the district in June 2023, he was an experienced Flock Safety product user. The former Houston Police Department patrol commander knew he wanted Flock Safety Falcon® License Plate Recognition (LPR) cameras in his school police department’s technology arsenal of prevention tools. He was looking for ways to use the technology to enable school staff to take a more proactive approach toward crime on the school grounds.
The Spring Branch ISD Police Department is using their Flock Safety LPRs and audio detection devices to allow officers to work more efficiently, with more information about what is happening 24/7 on school grounds. The Flock Safety Falcon® cameras are helping them solve and deter crime, keeping the school campus safer while Flock Safety Raven® audio detection devices are out-performing a system from another vendor, identifying gunshots with more accuracy.
“This is a force multiplier that allows you to do more than a human can ever do. And it gives more than just peace of mind for the safety of students and staff. It provides us with the tools we need, should something happen, to find those who committed the crime."
Police Chief Larry Baimbridge | Spring Branch ISD
Flock Safety Falcon® LPR cameras and Flock Safety Raven® audio detection devices have allowed the school to better control its perimeters and everyone on school grounds. ISD police officers get alerts for people who shouldn’t be on campus and can clearly track anyone who drives into their parking lots. Officers’ ability to respond quickly to problems and solve crimes clearly demonstrates that Spring Branch ISD school property is not a place to commit crimes.
Preventing future vandalism: For decades students from Spring Branch and a nearby school district have traded pranks before their big football game, with escalating tactics. In recent years the back-and-forth has intensified, “moving from fun silly stuff like toilet papering houses to breaking windows, damaging property, doing things that obviously cross the line and make people worry about their safety,” said Baimbridge. As a new chief, Baimbridge wanted to stop the pattern.
When the rival school students came onto campus late at night to spray paint a school marquee with some graffiti, Baimbridge’s team was ready. They easily used the Flock cameras to identify their late-night visitors and crack down right away on the vandalism. After that, the incidents stopped and his students and staff could focus on learning and preparing for the big game, without worrying about damage to their property on school grounds.
“It sent a message to everyone that if you commit a crime at Spring Branch, we’re going to catch you. It helped make it a much more peaceful week and put everybody’s fears and rest,” Baimbridge said.
Superior gunshot detection
While the school has had gunshot detection systems from another vendor, Baimbridge was not convinced they were the best choice. He agreed to a test of the Flock Safety Raven® audio detection devices, putting them next to the other vendor’s devices for a side-by-side comparison. In the first five days the Flock Safety Raven® devices identified three incidents of gunshots that the other vendor’s system did not detect. That early warning system, paired with LPR cameras could be key to preventing school violence, the chief said.
"Utilizing the Flock Safety Raven® system can help us to get where we want to be much, much quicker, and gives parents and students peace of mind that, if a shooting does occur, we’ll have a head start. The whole Flock Safety system gives us the ability to be proactive. We don’t want to deal with the aftermath of a shooting; we want to stop it."
Police Chief Larry Baimbridge | Spring Branch ISD
Keeping cars and people safer
School parking lots are often targeted by criminals. They can be an appealing place to steal property or hide a stolen vehicle. Spring Branch ISD Police get alerts from their LPR system from their own custom lists of banned students or people who shouldn’t be on campus, but they also get law enforcement alerts for sex offenders, stolen vehicles, or more.
People don’t steal cars for joyriding, 99% of the time when a stolen vehicle is involved they’re committing other crimes with it. There’s a reason they don’t want to use their own car. If I have a stolen car on school grounds, I want to stop that car before they do robberies or burglaries. We’re able to catch them right away and prevent so many other crimes.
Smarter school policing saves money
School public safety agencies have the same challenges that others do, struggling to fill open positions with qualified candidates. Baimbridge’s team has a large area to cover and can’t possibly staff all the schools with enough officers to watch everything all the time. When officers can prevent crime or solve parking lot crime quickly, they have more availability to handle emergencies, solve problems, and be a positive influence on student behavior.
"If our officers aren’t spending time writing reports for cars getting broken into in the parking lot, then they can better protect the students inside the school. We want our officers to be in the schools, available, should something bad happen, as opposed to being out running around trying to do offense reports for things that have already happened. The best outcome is preventing those crimes in the first place,” the Chief said.
Implementation without IT hassle
School staff don’t have time for systems that will take a lot of effort to put in place or maintain. Flock Safety devices don’t require any extra infrastructure or work on the school’s part. Baimbridge said that he was impressed by how easy Flock Safety was to work with in getting his devices properly placed and up and running.
“They did exactly what they said they would do. They got it done quickly and with professionalism. Flock has the experts and they know what to do and do it the right way,” Baimbridge said.
Flock Safety technology is an important part of the Spring Branch ISD Police Department strategy for keeping schools safer on a daily basis. Safer schools are better places for learning, Baimbridge says.
Crime creates such a disruption to people's lives. When you’re trying to learn, when you’re trying to teach, the last thing you need is to have to worry about if you’re safe. I’m a believer that this technology can help us better protect the students and teachers in and around our schools. What this allows us to do is truly unbelievable.