Press Release: City Continues Fight to Keep Surveillance Cameras Secret

LEXINGTON, Ky. —  The city of Lexington won’t give up its fight to keep information related to “mobile surveillance cameras” secret.

On June 19, Fayette County Circuit Court Judge John Reynolds issued an order granting a motion for summary judgment in a lawsuit filed against We See You Watching Lexington director Mike Maharrey and ordered the Lexington Police Department to release documents related to 29 surveillance cameras it owns and operates.

Reynolds said the city did not meet its burden of proof and “failed to assert an applicable provision of the KRS or other binding precedent which would allow the denial of the information requested by Maharrey.”

The Lexington Fayette County Urban Government entered a motion to alter, amend or vacate the judgment and wants the court to conduct an “in camera” review of information relating to the cameras.

A hearing is scheduled before Division 3 of the Fayette Circuit Court on Friday, July 6, at 1 p.m.

“I’m disappointed that the city government continues to fight transparency. It makes you wonder what exactly it’s so desperate to hide,” Maharrey said. “In order to keep information out of the public eye, the city has to show a compelling government interest. It failed to make that case to the attorney general. It failed to make that case before a judge. At what point is the LFUCG going to quit wasting taxpayer money? How long is it going to fight to maintain a veil of secrecy? How long is it going obstruct the public’s right to know how it’s operating surveillance technology with a high potential for abuse? This is absurd.”

Maharrey formed a grassroots organization to address surveillance issues in Lexington after the city installed cameras at the Berry Hill Skate Park last summer. The open records request was part of We See You Watching Lexington’s efforts to learn more about surveillance and ensure some accountability exists.

“It turns out it doesn’t,” Maharrey said. “People shouldn’t have to get sued in order to find out what kind of surveillance programs the city operates. Furthermore, the city should not operate this kind of potentially invasive technology without firm policies in place directing how, when and where it’s used, and establishing how information is stored and shared.”

We See You Watching Lexington is working for the introduction and passage of a local ordinance that would take the first step toward limiting the unchecked use of surveillance technologies that violate basic privacy rights and feed into a broader national surveillance state.

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We See You Watching Lexington is a coalition of people concerned about privacy and government surveillance in Lexington, Kentucky. Our goal is to “watch the watchers,” and ensure surveillance programs operated by the Lexington Police Department and other government agencies are transparent, accountable, and kept within strict parameters.

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