Lexington police discuss new license plate reading cameras amid privacy concerns
LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - Several high-tech cameras have been installed across Lexington over the past month.
The cameras scan and track license plates. Police say they already helped solve crimes, but several groups are raising privacy and transparency concerns.
Lexington police held a press conference Monday afternoon to discuss the cameras:
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Chief Lawrence Weathers says, in the past month, the cameras have helped police solve nine cases involving stolen vehicles, domestic violence and burglary.
He explained the cameras work by taking multiple images of license plates passing by. Those images are checked against a registry of wanted vehicles. The chief would not specify where the cameras are located, noting that doing so could jeopardize investigations and public safety.
Some people in the community feel the locations of these flock cameras should be public knowledge. Mayor Linda Gorton disagrees.
“When you’re in the public, using public infrastructure, these cameras have every right to be there and people do not have the right to a particular kind of exemption from the license plate readers because they’re in the public right of way,” said Mayor Gorton said.
Some community groups, like LPD Accountability, the NAACP, ACLU, and Human Rights Commission, are concerned the cameras will target minority neighborhoods. are worried about where the cameras will be placed.
“We’re concerned that these cameras could potentially target marginalized and over-policed communities,” said James Woodhead, LPD Accountability.
LPD Accountability is encouraging people to report where they see these cameras.
“We can’t stop them from doing that, but, you know, if the whole reason for us doing it is to reduce crime, I would really like them to think about being affected by that,” said Chief Weathers.
Mayor Gorton says she has already earmarked money in her budget to increase funding for the flock cameras.
Police say nine flock cameras have been installed around Fayette County. The other 16 should be up by the end of May.
The flock camera pilot program in Lexington will last for a year.
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