Image Credit: Tony Webster / CC
The Tennessee Conservative [By Jason Vaughn] –
Nashville drivers will soon find themselves in front of the camera now that the Metro Council has approved a 6-month pilot program of new automatic license plate readers.
The council approved the program in a 22-12 vote on Tuesday, with one member abstaining.
License plate readers, or LPRs, take a picture of every vehicle and license plate that passes by the machine. Law enforcement officials can compare those plate numbers against national lists of numbers involved in various searches such as missing persons, violent crimes, or stolen vehicles.
Nashville’s pilot program will also allow LPR images to be used to catch traffic and parking offenses, but the Metro Nashville Police Department has said that they do not have plans to use LPRs to enforce traffic violations.
The program is expected to begin sometime in the spring, although an exact date has not been determined. The program should be completed before the August 2023 Metro Council elections. No exact information regarding cost or location of the devices has been determined.
The city has not yet chosen a specific company to handle the program or to provide the technology. Their plan is to use the six-month trial to test a variety of products and service providers before allowing them to bid on a contract.
The use of LPRs in the city has been a hot topic of debate in recent months, with supporters saying they would help law enforcement officials solve more crimes.
Those against the devices say they will be too much of a violation of people’s privacy. They argue that the money spent could be better used on things like schools and affordable housing. Others are concerned about all of the unknowns such as cost.
Several community organizations submitted a letter asking council members not to vote in favor of the measure, saying that it would unfairly target individuals from minority neighborhoods.
Mt. Juliet installed LPRs back in April 2020 and their police department noted this week that recovered 142 stolen cars, captured 100 wanted individuals, and found 9 missing persons since that inception. They did note that it was not possible to say that every success was solely due to the use of LPRs but expressed great satisfaction with a lowered crime rate across the city.
The council has already changed the proposal since February to keep the information collected from being used to catch illegal immigrants or document the enforcement of anti-abortion laws. They say that they will not allow U.S. Immigration and Customs to access collected information by subpoena. The Metro Nashville Police Department has stated that they will honor that.
The Mayor’s office has said that they are willing to have an additional public hearing after the results of the pilot program are collected.
About the Author: Jason Vaughn, Media Coordinator for The Tennessee Conservative ~ Jason previously worked for a legacy publishing company based in Crossville, TN in a variety of roles through his career. Most recently, he served as Deputy Director for their flagship publication. Prior, he was a freelance journalist writing articles that appeared in the Herald Citizen, the Crossville Chronicle and The Oracle among others. He graduated from Tennessee Technological University with a Bachelor’s in English-Journalism, with minors in Broadcast Journalism and History. Contact Jason at news@TennesseeConservativeNews.com