Mayor's proposal for Flock cameras met with skepticism by some

Posted at 10:56 PM, Apr 19, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-19 23:12:00-04

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — Mayor Linda Gorton presented her $460 million budget proposal to the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Council Tuesday, putting an emphasis on public safety.

"The budget I am presenting today is bold," Mayor Gorton said. "It's a historic investment in our community."

The budget includes a $275,000 investment for 75 additional Flock Safety cameras, which are used by police officers to aid their investigations.

Mayor Gorton said the funding would be in place contingent on the success of the current pilot program, which has seen 25 cameras placed throughout the city.

Flock has been criticized by non-profit organizations that argue it is unproven and invasive.

B.U.I.L.D., an interfaith group that aims to curb violence, has argued the cameras would be placed in "over-policed communities."

Lexington Police have declined to divulge where the cameras would be placed, citing security reasons.

"We're only tracking crime," said Lexington Police Chief Lawrence Weathers. "If a crime happens, then we're looking for the vehicle associated with that crime. We're not monitoring peoples' movements or vehicles."

The pilot program has already yielded results, city officials said.

"Police have already used them to locate and arrest suspects related to domestic violence and other assaults, recover stolen vehicles, and help identify a suspect in an animal abuse investigation," said Mayor Gorton.

Belinda Snead, a member of B.U.I.L.D., said she would have preferred Mayor Gorton use the money allocated for Flock cameras elsewhere.

"She could've spent that money on GVI," Snead said. "A proven strategy."

The Group Violence Intervention strategy (GVI) has been endorsed by the National Network for Safety Communities (NNSC), but Mayor Gorton has rebuffed advocates' calls for its implementation.

In a letter to B.U.I.L.D. in March, Mayor Gorton addressed the group's claims about Flock cameras.

"Flock looks at crime analysis data across the board to recommend placement of its cameras," Mayor Gorton wrote. "For B.U.I.L.D. to make a statement about the mayor installing cameras in already 'over-policed communities' without even know where the cameras are is problematic.'"