Chief Drake shows support for license plate readers

Community leaders share concerns about proposal
Posted at 3:44 AM, Dec 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-22 12:11:28-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Could license plate readers be coming to Nashville streets?

Metro Nashville Police Department's new Chief John Drake urged skeptical Metro councilmembers to approve the scanners at the recent meeting.

Community leaders talked about what worries them about the proposal to add license plate readers around the city.

"My largest concern is around the privacy but also making the public aware of every possible use of what you can do with it," said Pastor Davie Tucker.

This discussion has been working its way through council and creating questions along the way.

"I think the public ought to know the depth of the use for it, how will it be stored, what will it be used for, and also how much will it cost?" said Tucker.

At that same meeting, newly appointed Metro Nashville Police Chief John Drake backed the technology.

"I think that being a major city, if we don't have those our crime is going to continue to increase and become more rampant," said Chief Drake.

Drake also addressed community concerns about privacy.

"It won't record just any one. If John Drake has committed a crime, I'm in a stolen vehicle and you know that plate, that is what the alert the police department would get." the police chief explained. "But if John Drake hasn't done anything at all and that car passes by an LPR then it doesnt register on that system."

Last week, the Metro Council narrowly moved to continue talks about a pilot program for the scanners, with Vice Mayor Jim Shulman casting a tie-breaking vote.

"It's hard not to vote for something on second reading when its this close, so I will vote yes to keep the bill alive so you can keep talking about it," said Shulman.

Now community leaders hope those talks include all voices.

"When the community wanted body cameras, it was a full out public commission that the mayor picked people to sit around to talk and come up with it, but here where the system is seeking greater surveillance its not getting the same level of attention," said Tucker.