Surveillance is on the agenda – Council to consider $236K for 75 new automatic license plate readers

Lexington, Ky.–The Lexington-Fayette Urban County Council is scheduled to consider a resolution that would authorize the Division of Police to expand the Flock Safety Automatic License Plate Reader (ALPR) program for an additional 75 ALPRs to be installed throughout the city, at a cost of $236,250. The city’s current pilot program has 25 cameras, so the expansion would bring the total number in the city to 100. Flock Safety, a private company, sells the cameras. The company was established in 2017.

The request to expand the program was submitted to Mayor Linda Gorton, who was recently re-elected in a landslide, by Police Chief Lawrence Weathers on November 11. A resolution authorizing the expansion will be introduced at the Tuesday, November 29 Urban County Council work session.

The Mayor and Police say the surveillance program, which works by recording the license plates of every vehicle that drives by and cross referencing it with a “hotlist,” has helped recover stolen vehicles and arrest many suspected criminals in Lexington.

The Council is generally supportive of the program–only Shayla Lynch claimed to oppose it in a Herald-Leader candidate survey, but she hasn’t taken office yet. Here’s what Lynch said about the FLOCK cameras:

I currently do not support the use of Flock cameras. I am strongly concerned about communities of color being unfairly targeted and surveilled unnecessarily. Clear regulations regarding use and placement must be fleshed out before considering if these are a good use of the city’s resources.

Shayla Lynch

Lynch’s electoral opponent opponent, Josh McCurn, had this to say about the Flock cameras:

I support the use of Flock cameras and have discussed these at length with my neighborhood associations and neighbors. The use of Flock cameras are to only read license plates and do not record any vision of who is driving the vehicle. If a vehicle is reported stolen, the license plate read triggers in the system alerting a vehicle has been spotted, not a specific person.

Josh McCurn

You can view or download Chief Weathers’ request to the Mayor, details about the proposed legislation, and the proposed agreement with Flock Safety below.

A Flock Safety automatic license plater reader