Lexington mayor, police chief ask council for 75 additional Flock license plate readers

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) — In March, 25 flock license plate readers were scattered throughout Lexington in an effort to help police focus on criminal activity.

Mayor Linda Gorton and Police Chief Lawrence Weathers are now asking Urban County Council members for an expansion of the Flock license plate reader program.

Flock cameras take photos of license plates and compare them in the National Crime Databases or to plates wanted locally for investigations.

Gorton said police use the photos to help solve crimes, not as monitoring devices or to catch people speeding.

Through evidence collected by the license plate readers, police have been able to recover more than $1.4 million in vehicles, located 11 missing people, serve 130 warrants and subpoenas, and charge 165 people, among other actions.

“I think the numbers make it clear, we need to move forward and fully implement this program,” said Gorton.

The pair asked for an additional 75 license plate readers at a Monday press conference.

“Even though the pilot project is not a year old, the technology has already more than proved itself on Lexington’s streets,” Gorton said.

She added the city intentionally started the program off slowly; they also didn’t release the locations of the license plate readers to the public, but that will change if the additional 75 cameras are installed.

Gorton says she included funding for the additional license plate readers in the current budget, which was approved by the council, at an estimated $236,250 annually. An additional vote from the council is required to move forward with the program.

Initially, the 25 license plate reader locations were not made known to the public due to concerns about targeting and privacy. However, Chief Weathers says that will change once the additional 75 are installed.

“We wanted to make sure that it was working, if we gave you the locations maybe people would try and go around them and things like that. So, we didn’t want to do that, we wanted to see how well it worked and I think going that way showed there was a need for it, a bigger need for it. So, once we get the 75 installed, I don’t think it will be an issue letting people know where they are.” said Chief Weathers.

Police say once council approves the expansion on Tuesday, it should take about three months for the new flock cameras to come in and get installed.

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