Lexington police say their newest investigative tool, which was debuted in a news conference Wednesday, will not intrude on privacy despite the system making use of security cameras owned by businesses and residents.
The new technology is called Fusus, a software that combines together all of police’s investigative assets, such as traffic cameras, Flock license plate readers and other cameras around the city. Lexington community members can voluntarily make their own surveillance cameras part of the system, but police say their access to the video on those devices will be limited.
“We’re not looking into your camera system unless there’s a call for service in your area,” Commander Matt Greathouse of the Lexington Police Department said at a news conference Wednesday. “Nobody is just randomly searching through cameras or looking at traffic cameras or anything like that unless there’s an active public safety response.”
Only authorized Lexington police personnel have access to the entire camera registry within Fusus. Camera registry data won’t be available to police either, only the camera owner. Additionally, Fusus’ policy only allows camera owners to adjust their camera’s settings, and they cannot be overridden by police.
Concerns had been raised in Lexington about the use of Flock license plate-reading cameras, which police addressed previously, saying those cameras offered investigative advantages. The department says it has recovered more than $2.7 million in stolen vehicles, served more than 200 warrants and subpoenas, seized more than 50 firearms and gotten dozens of investigative leads thanks to the aid of the Flock cameras. Officials say making more cameras part of the Fusus system will offer more investigation help.
“Technology does not replace good police work, but instead it is another tool for our officers and detectives that they can use for safer, more efficient investigation,” police Chief Lawrence Weathers said Wednesday. “We will still have officers talking and engaging with the community, and following up on any leads.”
Fusus is used by other cities in the region and across the U.S., like Louisville and Cincinnati. LPD has established a policy for the video management system to dictate rules around who can access the video and how long its kept, among other things.
Fusus will be featured in the police department’s real-time intelligence center, which is overseen by two full-time analysts.
“We are taking an exciting step forward that will make our community safer through technology,” Mayor Linda Gorton said.
Businesses, community partners and citizens have the options to include their cameras into the Fusus software if they choose. If people choose to implement their camera with Fusus, they can either register or integrate their camera.
Registering a camera is free and simply informs police about a camera’s location. If an incident occurs nearby, police will reach out to the registered camera’s owner via email and ask them for footage. The camera owner would decide whether to give police the footage.
Integration allows police live access to a camera in case of a nearby incident. People interested in integration must purchase a FususCORE device.
People interested in implementing their cameras with Fusus can do so at connectlex.org. As of Wednesday afternoon, there were 15 cameras registered and 186 more integrated with Fusus.