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Lexington's City Council takes first step in extending license-reading camera program

Lexington Police Commander Matthew Greathouse before the Lexington City Council 04-09-24
Stu Johnson
Lexington Police Commander Matthew Greathouse before the Lexington City Council 04-09-24

Lexington City Council members have given initial approval to extend the contract for 100 license-reading cameras for five years. The agenda item Tuesday created some discussion.

Installation of the first Flock cameras in Lexington began in 2022. Police credit them with helping to find 269 stolen vehicles, seizing 68 guns, and serving more than 40 warrants. Lexington Police Chief Lawrence Weathers said it’s technology that’s needed today.

“I don’t have the police to put on every corner but if I can electronically solve that problem that’s what I’m gonna do. My goal is if I can’t prevent people from getting hurt…catching the people who did it,” said Weathers.

First District Council Member Tayna Fogel said there were community concerns about over-surveillance and asked about an independent audit. Chief Weathers said the Department had not gotten one complaint about violating privacy.

Police Commander Matthew Greathouse said the footage is assisting investigators in many areas.

“We’re touching every single crime that’s in our community. We don’t have a check box on a report that says Flock, Flock, Flock. I can tell you that investigators may spend 30 seconds in the Flock system looking for a specific vehicle that may or may not have been associated with a crime. That’s a success story…can be a success story,” said Greathouse.

Greathouse said the information can further an investigation but can also rule a possible suspect out. Chief Weathers says Flock cameras amount to a technology tool, but not a replacement for officers.

The chief also said he hadn’t been a big fan of security cameras at his home. But, two weeks ago it helped catch someone sneaking around to try to get in his car.

Commander Greathouse said other cities in comparable size to Lexington tend to have between a hundred to 150 license-readers. Although he said with expansion of the urban service area there could be a need for more cameras, this contract doesn’t call for it.

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Stu has been reporting for WEKU for more than 35 years. His primary beat is Lexington/Fayette government.
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