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Report: License plate cameras have helped Lexington police track down 11 missing persons and 82 stolen vehicles

Lexington now has its 25 license plate reader cameras in place and police are reporting on how the pilot camera program is aiding their department’s work.

The license plate readers, also known as LPRs or FLOCK cameras, capture images and collect data from licenses and run those plate numbers against what are known as Hot Lists — those are databases meant to alert police to stolen vehicles, known wanted criminals, and repeat DUI offenders.

To date, Lexington Police Commander Matthew Greathouse says the cameras have helped officers track down 82 stolen vehicles.

"We've located 11 people who were listed missing, seized 30 firearms, further 38 investigations. Some of those investigations of highlight are seven homicides that occurred in 2022," the commander reported.

It’s a program Greathouse says has been a valuable asset for the city.

As for concerns about the placement of the cameras, which was not made public, and their potential misuse, Greathouse said checks designed to make sure the cameras are used properly have uncovered no abuse of the system.

"The audit found no violations of policy," Greathouse said. "Department custom hot list entries are verified to be valid each week, so we have somebody on Mondays go in and actually look to make sure that those aren't expired or stale, so they're vetted on a weekly basis."

While the cameras are not used for traffic violations or sending out tickets, Greathouse was asked if they might ever be modified to do so. He said the cameras aren’t made for that kind of use.

The report comes as city officials weigh whether to continue and expand the program.

Josh James fell in love with college radio at Western Kentucky University's student station, New Rock 92 (now Revolution 91.7). After working as a DJ and program director, he knew he wanted to come home to Lexington and try his hand in public radio.