ELMIRA N.Y. (WETM) – Ahead of its biweekly meeting, the Elmira City Council gathered to discuss the agenda, which includes a controversial topic regarding the public’s safety.

Although few residents attended, some questioned the Flock Safety cameras being installed in the city and the concern for residents’ privacy, including 1st District Councilman Nick Grasso.

“Elmira City Council seemed like they were just going to set these up and think everyone was just going to kind of, you know let it get swept under the rug. They were a little disingenuous about it,” said Sam Somostrada, an Elmira resident.

According to Flock Safety’s website, 42 states and over 1,000 cities currently use its cameras and services. It adds that the cameras are used to help against property, violent, stolen vehicle crimes, and more. The cameras are able to read license plates and note distinguishing characters on vehicles that may have been altered by the owner.

The cameras are being installed on their own freestanding pole or added to light poles in areas downtown. The cameras are motion-activated and solar-powered meaning they are working 24/7.

“It is a tool that will help the Elmira Police Department when it comes to hopefully solving crimes, hopefully preventing crimes,” said Elmira City Manager, Michael Collins.

Collins says he is unable to disclose the exact locations of all 50 cameras being installed but the black camera with solar panel attached shouldn’t be hard to find.

Another question raised during the workshop is how the project will be funded. Flock Safety charges a $350 installation fee per camera and a $125,000 annual fee for the service. The initial fee for the project is almost $150,000 with the annual fee due each year.

“We are utilizing money out of the ARP (American Rescue Plan) funding that we did receive and over two years period it is $250,000 total. What we will have to do at budget time in two years is look and see can the city afford that.”

The cameras have already been installed in a few areas like Davis Street near the Elmira Correctional Facility and downtown Elmira.

Residents are able to express concern during the city council meeting planned for Monday, January 30th and 5:30pm in the Council Chambers.