Law enforcement of Middle Tennessee has recently pitched for license plate readers to be allowed on Nashville streets. The group met on Thursday at the Midtown Hills Police Precinct and said that many of them already use license plate readers (LPRs).
Nashvillians are voicing their concerns about the technology. One local man told NewsChannel5 they are worried that “the cameras will lead to over-policing, racial profiling and an unnecessary invasion of privacy.” New outlets reported that many said that the city should spend its money on more pressing topics, such as health care and education issues.
But not everyone is against the street camera program.
“License plate readers are not going to fix every issue that this city has,” one man reportedly said. He added, “But if it can make an environment safer for families, and for tourists, I’m in favor of it.”
While there is opposition to law enforcement using this surveillance technology, the Tennessee Department of Transportation and Vanderbilt University have begun a large-scale project using similar equipment. Known as I-24 MOTION, high speed cameras are used to anonymously monitor traffic in order to make the world’s roadways ‘smarter and safer,’ project leaders say.
By contrast, police LPRs work by using high-speed cameras that take multiple pictures of license plate numbers. The cameras also capture the time, date, and geolocation that the pictures were taken. Most of the cameras must be stationary. They are often mounted on poles by traffic lights or exit ramps.
Officers on Thursday said that the LPRs can help catch stolen vehicles, solve Amber Alerts, and catch criminals on the run.
Law enforcement consulting group Lexipol’s blog Police1.com noted the city of Mt. Juliet has been using automatic license plate recognition technology by Rekor since April 2020. The LEO news blog credited the system for helping to reduce crime and prevent car thefts.
Mt. Juliet Police Captain Tyler Chandler told the blog, “we’ve surpassed 100 successful interceptions. We’ve recovered over 60 stolen cars, 36 stolen plates, four stolen trailers, two missing juveniles, and 40 wanted persons.”
At Thursday’s meeting, Chandler said, “We’re not out targeting a community driving around trying to find people we think are wanted in stolen cars, we know for sure it’s a stolen tag and we know it’s a stolen car or wanted person.”
The council will consider two bills for LPRs at their next meeting on November 2.
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Morgan Nicole Veysey is a reporter for The Tennessee Star and The Star News Network. Follow her on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected]