The cameras, reportedly installed in March, are along a main thoroughfare at Highlands Boulevard and Duffy Lane and Highlands Boulevard and Bee Creek Road. Other locations are near the intersections of Bee Creek and White Horse Cove, Peninsula Way and Primo Fiore Terrace.
Lakeway Mayor Tom Kilgore brought the issue to the council agenda after hearing about the cameras to make the general public aware of the presence of the cameras, which according to a discussion during the June 21 meeting, were installed based on an agreement signed by former Lakeway Police Chief Todd Radford with the manufacturer of the cameras, Flock Safety. The move was reportedly part of an initiative with the Rough Hollow homeowners association.
Bill Hayes, chief operating officer for Legend Communities, which developed the Rough Hollow community, who was in attendance at the meeting for another item on the council agenda, told council members during a public hearing on the matter that he was not aware that the cameras were not part of an official city initiative and would have the cameras removed.
“The system was presented to us sort of with the endorsement of the Lakeway police,” Hayes said. “We thought we were doing a favor essentially in allowing this to get up. I’ll order to take them down immediately—all cameras. We thought we were being a good partner with the city.”
Much of the council discussion around the cameras was that the city had no policy in place with the manufacturer of the cameras to manage the data collected by the cameras, which record license plate numbers and compare motorists' license plates with broad crime-prevention databases to determine if the plate number was reported stolen.
Data is also shared with the Lakeway Police Department, but Capt. David Crowder, who is acting police chief while the city seeks a replacement for Radford, said he knows very little about the system.
During the meeting, Council Member Gretchen Vance asked Crowder how Radford signed a contract to install the cameras.
“I can’t tell you how that happened other than Flock offered to share that information with us and there were a couple of meetings about that. We are not involved in collecting the data or anything like that.”
Vance then asked if Crowder knows if Flock shares data from Rough Hollow with its national law enforcement data network known as Talon. Crowder said he did not know. In the past six months the cameras within Rough Hollow have contributed to two investigations of theft of building materials, according to the council discussion.
Earlier in the conversation, Vance said she was concerned that the presence of the cameras on Lakeway city streets and the constant electronic surveillance was a violation of the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which protects citizens against unreasonable searches and seizures.
“Going down a road you have some expectation of privacy that your data won’t be collected,” Vance said. “The HOA has placed these cameras not in their private roads but in city roads in the right of way. And collecting information about a citizen's innocent activity, just in case they do something wrong, I have an absolute, fundamental opposition to that.”
A phone call to Radford was not returned at the time of this article's publication.