Nashville community groups oppose license plate reader pilot program

Posted at 9:49 PM, Feb 02, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-03 12:03:14-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — License plate readers are coming to Nashville.

This comes after Metro City Council voted to approve a bill allowing a six-month pilot program.

But several community groups want council members to end the program.

Luis Mata with TIRRC Votes, an organization that advocates for immigrant and refugee communities, said he's worried this policy will lead to family separations if undocumented people are involved in a routine traffic stop.

“Those in support of license plate readers claim that data would not be shared with ICE and that license plate readers will only be used to flag connections to criminal activity but we know that’s not the case especially when it comes to an agency like ICE,” Mata said.

More than a dozen groups expressed concern with the license plate reader bill including Walk Bike Nashville.

Cathy Carrillo, schools manager at Walk Bike Nashville, said council members ignored the input from multiple community organizations.

“There’s just not enough trust in the limitations of how this data can be used. And for us as Walk Bike Nashville, we really consider that a huge issue when it comes the public safety of our most marginalized communities," Carrillo said.

Law enforcement says LPRs can be a great tool to catch criminals on the run, solve Amber Alerts, and find stolen cars.

Walk Bike Nashville says it isn't opposed to using technology to solve problems, but said the issue is with how this bill is written.

“We know there is a solution, we know that there is a way to use technology to improve public safety, but this bill as it stands is absolutely not that," Carrillo said.

Councilwoman Sandra Sepulveda said it was disappointing to see the voice of the people ignored by the vote.

“We received so many emails from people against license plate readers, from our district and other peoples district,” Sepulveda said.

Sepulveda said in the past, LPRs have placed people in danger because data was entered incorrectly. She said if mistakes happened in other cities, they can also happen here.

“It’s not something that should have been passed but it was,” she said.