LEXINGTON, Ky. (FOX 56) — The Lexington Police Department just shared a map of the locations of its Flock Safety cameras.
Some people in the community feel surveillance and over-policing are synonymous with each other, and uncomfortable now knowing how many and where the Flock Safety cameras are in Lexington.
One of those community members is Belinda Snead, a board member of Lexington coalition B.U.l.L.D.
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B.U.l.L.D. works to resolve community problems and holds public officials accountable, and Snead believes Flock Safety cameras are not the answer to keeping crime down in the city.
“We do know that there are 22 cameras in District 1 alone; we know districts that don’t have any flock cameras,” Snead said. “That does not give me a sense of security at all. It rather feels like an invasion of privacy or like spying.”
Snead said instead of more Flock Safety cameras, she would rather see more group violence intervention.
“It would improve police legitimacy, which would in turn build relationships between the community and the police,” Snead said. “But instead, the city is spending a lot of money on putting the community under even more surveillance.”
At Tuesday’s Urban City Council meeting, Lexington Police Chief Lawrence Weathers said the cameras are making their jobs more efficient and treating the community more fairly.
“We would get a call for maybe a blue Toyota or something like that. Well, how many blue Toyotas are there? There’s probably quite a bit and this technology can pinpoint it’s a blue Toyota with this license plate. It’s a blue Toyota that maybe has a dent in the side or something like that,” Weathers said. “That technology helps us be more specific. Therefore, we’re not stopping every blue Toyota.”
Another advantage the Lexington Police Department pointed out was that the Flock Safety cameras identify accidents and situations like hazmat spills quicker, meaning faster alerts to both the fire and police departments.
On Lexington’s website for the license plate reader statistics, it shows that as of last month
197 warrants were served, 18 missing people were located, there were 56 leads for investigations, 46 guns were seized, almost 700 charges were placed, and more than $2 million worth of vehicles were recovered.
“We’re focusing on areas you think are overpoliced,” Weathers said. “I think you also have to look at those might be areas where people are over-victimized.”
However, Snead believes victims are not going to feel the same level of protection from cameras as they would from an officer in person.
“People want to know that they’re safe,” Snead said. “They don’t know that by cameras being posted. They’ll know when a policeman comes up to them and talks to them about what’s going on, how to help, and that they legitimately want to build relationships with the people in the neighborhoods. Flock cameras is not it.”