Judge: Lexington Must Release Surveillance Information

Lexington, KY, must release information about the city’s surveillance cameras and policies surrounding their use, a judge ordered this month.

According to the Lexington Herald Leader, the legal struggle began last summer when local activist and organizer Mike Maharrey filed an open records request for information related to the city’s surveillance technology, including purchase orders, grant applications and receipts for devices, contracts with outside vendors, training manuals related to the technologies and written policies governing their use. The police department told Maharrey it used 29 mobile surveillance cameras “available for a variety of video surveillance operations” but did not provide additional information. The city claimed that it did not have to disclose policies outlining how the cameras were used under the state’s Open Records Act.

Maharrey appealed to Attorney General Andy Beshear’s office, which ordered the city to turn over the documents. A lawsuit against Maharrey from the city failed, and Fayette Circuit Judge John Reynolds ordered the city to release the documents.

Maharrey says he is focused on pushing for a city ordinance that would guide future surveillance tactics, writing: “We have a right to weigh in and decide whether or not the benefit of surveillance technology outweighs the potential for abuse and violation of our basic rights. We have a right to insist government agencies operate potentially invasive technology with oversight and transparency, in a manner that respects our civil liberties.”

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