Metro Council to continue discussion over license plate reader bill

Posted at 10:39 AM, Apr 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-21 11:39:20-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Could Metro expand its use of license plate readers? Nashville's elected leaders spent hours trying to figure it out during Tuesday night's Metro Council meeting.

This debate lasted three hours and the topic of license plate readers was in the form of two bills, only one of which is still on the table. But there were a lot of concerns brought up about a potential license plate reader program.

Right now, Metro police officers can manually run plates for example when someone is pulled over at a stoplight. But the first bill would've allowed Metro officers to use license plate readers to check for parking violations, stolen vehicles, or cars associated with missing people or outsanding felony warrants.

That bill failed -- with council members split right down the middle.

Another bill is more detailed, adding some stipulations to the use of readers.

For example, it would limit readers to be used in reckless driving cases where vehicles are going more than 70 mph, would require “technology deployment policy” to prevent misuse and tracking of vulnerable communities, and clarifies that the scanning must be justified and data can only be kept for 10 days.

This debate led to more questions than answers, which is why the council wasn't able to come to a decision last night.

"We've done a lot of work on this, but there have been three hours of very fundamental questions about this bill. I think the opportunity to discuss it more, we've had all these questions about readiness and rushing and everything else, let's take our time," said Council Member Colby Sledge of District 17.

The use of license plate readers isn't new to Middle Tennessee. Some nearby police departments like Mt. Juliet, Hendersonville and Brentwood have them. Metro Council will discuss this again at a future meeting.