Metro Council, Belle Meade Debate License Plate Recognition Cameras

Posted at 10:59 PM, Jun 02, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-03 00:00:26-04

Privacy versus Security -- Metro Council members and the city of Belle Meade have not been seeing eye to eye when it comes to license plate recognition (LPR) cameras on a Davidson County road.

Last fall, the city installed a license plate recognition camera at the corner of Harding and Lynwood Boulevard.

The mayor said the purpose was for the safety of the citizens, but Metro Councilman Dave Rosenberg wrote an ordinance that could limit video surveillance within Davidson County.

"There's always that balance between privacy and security, and right now privacy is being completely ignored and this will restore some balance to that," Rosenberg said.

"If an agency wants to introduce a new type of surveillance to the city or increase the prevalence of that equipment by more than 50 percent, it'll come before the council for a vote as well as a public hearing," he said.

Rosenberg said he sees surveillance cameras, like license plate recognition cameras, as an invasion of privacy and susceptible to hackers because information can be stored for 90 days.

Belle Meade Police Chief Tim Eads has viewed the use of LPR cameras differently.

"People that are wanted for violent crimes, if the vehicle comes into our jurisdiction we can dispatch a car to it depending on where it's at... if it's left the city at least that's information that can be passed on," Eads said.

Police installed their first LPR camera near Harding Pike and Lynwood Blvd as a safety factor and want to add 19 more.

"Systems like these really need the public oversight and if you got a solid policy that's been reviewed by the public and voted on by the governing bodies which would be the commissioners and mayor of Belle Meade then I think that allows another safeguard of oversight," Eads said.

Although Belle Meade lies within the county it runs under its own jurisdiction, but new cameras have the possibility of being affected by the ordinance.

The proposed ordinance would make exceptions for things like Amber Alerts.

Rosenberg said the cameras could be turned on while an alert is in effect.

Metro Council members have been scheduled to vote on the ordinance June 6. If passed, it would go into effect July 1. To read the ordinance, click here.