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Lexington license plate camera map raises questions of over-policing, chief urges residents to think about crime victims

FLOCK camera location map
FLOCK camera location map

With the locations of all 100 planned license plate reader cameras now public, the city council heard concerns about overpolicing in some areas during public comment on the budget Thursday.

Since the publication of the camera map, critics have pushed back on what they see as the potential targeting of minority and low-income neighborhoods.

Thursday, a speaker spoke to the issue in front of council.

"My district, district 9, has one camera — one — while others have 20 or more, some within a block of one another," she said. "We're told these cameras are used to read license plates after crimes, but the placement of the cameras and lack of them in certain places implies that criminals don't drive in those areas. Am I truly to believe there are no criminals in my district and all the people committing crimes lives in two or three districts in the city and warrant an extreme level of targeting?"

In recent comments before council, Lexington Police Chief Lawrence Weathers addressed that criticism, arguing the department needs to consider victims of crime as well.

"We took the tack of placement for the FLOCK cameras looking at where crime happens," Weathers said. "I think, if you do that and you're focusing on areas that you believe, or you think, are over-policed, you also have to look at those might be areas where people are over-victimized too. So we do have to look at that."

The city is currently considering the implementation of new intelligence software that would link the license plate readers, traffic cameras, and security devices from homes and businesses that choose to be included into a single system.

As of mid-April, Lexington police report the plate readers, also known as FLOCK cameras, have helped recover more than 150 stolen vehicles, seize at least 46 firearms, and locate 18 missing persons.

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.