License Plate Readers

License plate reader presentation

Council work session – March 15, 2022

 

License plate reader policy

The Lexington Police Department has established a policy to guide the capture, storage and use of digital data obtained through license plate reader (LPR) technology. 

To view the policy, please visit the link below. 

License plate reader (LPR) policy
 

License plate reader statistics 

Since the first license plate reader was installed in March 2022, the department has been tracking arrests, charges, and pertinent data related to the LPRs. The LPRs are used for investigative leads of criminal offenses. They are not traffic cameras and cannot be used for speed or red light enforcement.

Below are statistics from when the first camera was installed to when the chart was last updated.

License Plate Reader Statistics: Updated 1/18/23

Stolen License Plates Recovered  14
Stolen Vehicles Recovered 119
Warrants/Subpoenas Served 146
Missing Persons Located 15
Leads for Investigations  48
Total Number of Firearms Seized 44
Total Number of Individuals Charged 197
Total Number of Charges Placed 550
Total Value of Recovered Vehicles $1,820,188


Additional crime and traffic statistics can be found at the links below.

Crime Data          Traffic Data 

 

License plate reader audits

Before an officer can access the LPR database to browse LPR detections, the inquiring officer must document a reason for the inquiry within the system. In accordance with the department’s policy on the license plate readers, audits of the  LPR detection browsing inquiries are completed at least once each quarter. LPR audits can be found below. 

Q2 2022 Audit 

License plate reader success in recovery stolen vehicles

License plate readers have significantly helped in the recovery of stolen vehicles. In 2020, the average number of days it took to recover a stolen vehicle was 10.3 days. In 2021, the average number of days for recovery was 10.4 days. 
 
Since the first license plate reader was installed in March 2022 until the end of November 2022, the average number of days to recover a stolen vehicle dropped to 5.6. Compared to 2020 and 2021, the months LPRs were active saw a 49% decrease in the number of days victims had to wait for their vehicles to be recovered. 

The graphs below compare the average number of days from 2020 and 2021 to 2022 before and after the installation of license plate readers. 
 

Average Number of Days to Recover a Stolen Vehicle

 

Average Number of Days to Recover a Stolen Vehicle After Flock

Flock Safety frequently asked questions

What is ALRP?

Automatic License Plate Readers (ALPR) have long helped law enforcement in investigating crimes and recovering stolen vehicles. ALPRs capture computer-readable images of license plates, allowing law enforcement agencies to compare plate numbers against those of stolen cars, cars driven by people suspected of being involved in criminal activities, missing persons, and AMBER alerts.

What is Flock Safety?

Flock Safety is a public safety operating system that helps communities and law enforcement in 1200+ cities work together to help reduce crime, protect privacy, and mitigate bias. Flock builds devices that capture objective evidence and use machine learning to create and deliver unbiased investigative leads to law enforcement.

Who does Flock Safety serve?

Flock Safety serves HOAs, neighborhoods, business owners, law enforcement agencies, towns, and cities to provide them with the tools they need to increase the effectiveness of their public safety efforts, target crime efficiently and objectively, and help provide the information police need to stop crime.

What about Law Enforcement Accountability?

While searching footage, law enforcement agencies must enter reason codes to verify the legitimacy of the search and create an audit trail.   

Authorized users are required to go through training in order to use the system.

Flock Safety customers commit not to use the images to work with repossession companies, traffic enforcement, revenue collection, unpaid fines, or towing companies. The system is not used for facial recognition or utilized for any personally identifiable information such as name, phone number, or address.

How does Flock Safety work in Lexington?

The License Plate Readers (LPRs) are placed in fixed locations throughout Lexington. The LPRs are completely solar-powered and are connected with cellular data. When a vehicle passes by, the LPRs will take several images. It is able to read the license plate and determine the color, make and type of vehicle, which are all searchable by investigators. The vehicle is automatically checked to see if it is on a hot list, such as a stolen vehicle, AMBER alert, missing persons, and NCIC. Law enforcement is notified if a vehicle passes by one of the LPRs and is on a hot list. They are not traffic cameras and cannot be used for speed or red light enforcement.

What do the License Plate Readers (LPRs) capture?

The LPRs capture still images of the rear of the vehicle passing and the license plate. They are not set up to capture the faces of drivers and passengers. LPRs are there to provide investigative leads for investigators for criminal offenses. The LPRs are not set up to capture images, such as a pedestrian walking their dog on the sidewalk. The LPRs are not traffic cameras and do not capture traffic violations. 

If an image is part of a criminal investigation, the image will be stored in our digital evidence management system.

How are the locations of LPRs determined?

The LPRs are placed in multiple locations throughout Lexington based on a review of crimes reported to us by victims with our Crime Analysts and Flock Safety.  Reported crime is the data used and does not include traffic stops, officer initiated activity or other enforcement actions.  LPRs are directed at vehicles traveling on a public right of way.  The LPRs are used to gather leads to investigate crimes reported to us, not for enforcement in neighborhoods.

What are the demographics of the areas where LPRs are located?

Upon the conclusion of selecting the initial locations for the LPRs a comparison was done of the demographics of the areas where LPRs are located and the overall population of Lexington.  The source of the data was the 2020 Census and the areas we looked at were census tracts which provide the most granular look at demographics.  These comparisons will continue to be done over time as LPRs are moved or added.

LPR Area Demographics

 

How is The Lexington Police Department utilizing Flock Safety?

Lexington Police Department policy clearly outlines the use of the LPR system is for legitimate law enforcement and public safety purposes only. It is a violation of the policy to use the LPR system or associated data for any personal purpose.  Officers are required to enter a reason for any search conducted and will be audited by the department’s Public Integrity Unit.  LPD policy states officers are required to verify any leads from the LPR system through NCIC.