Nashville residents weigh in on license plate readers

License Plate Readers meeting
Posted at 8:40 PM, Oct 26, 2021

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — A crime fighting tool? Or an invasion of privacy?

Debate heats up over the possible use of license plate reader technology on Nashville streets, as Metro Council members prepare to debate two separate bills at their next meeting.

A town hall meeting at the downtown Nashville Public Library gave residents a chance to share their thoughts on the topic for the first time. While multiple people lined up to weigh in on the issue, opinions were mixed.

Prior to the public weighing on, District Attorney General Glenn Funk addressed the audience and said the cameras would help promote public safety, while Nashville Chief Public Defender Martesha Johnson addressed concerns about privacy risks and misuse of data.

Supporters largely argued the cameras will help increase safety in the city, and would be an important resource for law enforcement officers.

"License plate readers are not going to fix every issue that this city has," said one man. "But if it can make an environment safer for families, and for tourists, I’m in favor of it."

Opponents focused on concerns the cameras will lead to over policing, racial profiling and an unnecessary invasion of privacy. Others believed that instead of investing in cameras, Nashville should focus on addressing affordable housing, healthcare and education issues.

"I guess it all boils down to how much do you trust the police to use these tools," said one man. "For me, the trust is very minimal."

Several Metro Council members and city leaders were in the audience to listen to all the opinions. The council will consider two competing bills, sponsored by Council Members Courtney Johnston and Dave Rosenberg, at the meeting on Nov. 2.