License plate reader pilot program moves forward in Nashville

Posted at 8:06 PM, Dec 06, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-06 23:24:19-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — After months of debate, Metro Council voted to approve a pilot program for license plate readers in Nashville.

Members voted 22-13-1.

The technology can detect license plate numbers connected to crimes, which in theory can help police capture criminals faster. The legislation launches a six-month trial run of the LRP program. If it's deemed successful, Metro Council can vote in another six months to make the program permanent.

Chief John Drake even came to speak during the public hearing. He and others from the police department pointed to LPRs that would have prevented crimes like the murders of Caitlyn Kaufman and Vishal Patel.

"This is an important technology," Nashville District Attorney Glenn Funk said. "They are deployed in Mt. Juliet, and they have helped Nashville solve crimes. They are deployed in Belle Meade, and they have helped us solve crimes. Dozens of crimes have already been solved thanks to this technology and I am excited Nashville is hopefully ready to move forward."

Others said they didn't approve of the surveillance mechanism, particularly those representing the immigrant community.

Judith Clerjeune — with the Tennessee Immigrant Refugee and Rights Coalition — said she and others have issues with the idea.

"We've seen the ways across the country this has hurt our communities," she said.

Other Metro Council members echoed those sentiments.

"Organizing Black and brown people is hard. You have to translate," council member Sandra Sepulveda said. "You might not understand that. This is not enough time. This isn't transparent. I don't know what we are doing here. We are about to approve this without knowing who we will contract with. When you look like me — that could be life or death. There have been immigrant families torn apart by this. This isn't a joke. When it happens, it will be me picking up the pieces."

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