Surveillance cameras installed along Lake County roads without permission to be removed

LAKE COUNTY, Fla. — Surveillance cameras aimed at curbing crime are coming down across Lake County after county officials said they were installed on public roads without permission.

The 98 cameras have been snapping shots of people’s license plates as they drive by.

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The company, Flock Safety, brands its program as “a new way to defeat crime.”

Its website states they’ve built a new operating system that’s now in more than 1,200 cities, taking credit for reducing crime by about 70% in those areas.

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The cameras record license plates, then connect with the sheriff’s office to see if the plates are connected to a criminal.

Commissioner Josh Blake sees multiple issues, starting with privacy.

“It’s a shocking violation of procedure and quite frankly, the law, for them to do this,” Blake said.

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The Lake County Sheriff’s Office said the company approached the department about testing out its surveillance program. Emails show Flock Safety said it wouldn’t install cameras anywhere that needed permission.

However, they’re scattered across public right-of-ways, which require permits before installation.

The sheriff’s office sent Channel 9 a statement saying, “While this technology is incredibly beneficial and helps our detectives solve crimes, the sheriff’s office terminated the pilot program with this company.”

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The county also sent Flock Safety a cease-and-desist order demanding the company remove all cameras from county property. If not, the county would remove them and Flock Safety would have to foot the bill.

The company told Channel 9 there was a miscommunication about the need for permits at some of the locations the cameras were installed. The company said they have started to remove the cameras.

Sarah Wilson

Sarah Wilson, WFTV.com

Sarah Wilson joined WFTV Channel 9 in 2018 as a digital producer after working as an award-winning newspaper reporter for nearly a decade in various communities across Central Florida.