NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – After months of debate over the technology, on late Tuesday night the Metro Council voted to defer both license plate reader bills indefinitely.
However, a bill to allow LPRs in public rights of way was narrowed down during the lengthy meeting as council approved two amendments to attach moving forward.
The amendments, sponsored by Councilwoman Joy Styles, would require a six month pilot program for the technology before official installment.
Now that both bills have been indefinitely deferred the sponsoring councilmembers can bring the legislation back to the table after two meetings.
But even before the vote to defer there were still concerns over privacy and over policing.
“I understand having a privacy concern and wanting to make sure that we have a policy that addresses all of those concerns, but I feel like we’ve done that,” Councilmember Courtney Johnston said.
Johnston, the bill sponsor, said the amendments that were approved are a result of a collaborative effort between council members trying to address those concerns.
“We’ve read a lot of fears of residents that have driven these decisions, but we haven’t been able to hear about the real lived fears on increasing traffic stops in the community,” Community Oversight Now Member Melissa Cherry said. “This is a false solution. This will not solve the initial issue of drag racing. It will not prevent crimes.”
Those in favor of the technology say it’s a way to keep communities safer when police cannot be there, especially during violent crimes, Amber or Silver alerts, and reckless driving situations.
“If we had enough police officers to be as many places as they’re needed, maybe we wouldn’t need this technology,” Johnston said. “A license plate reader does not take a picture of a person. This is not a racial bill, this is a public safety bill.”
The second bill discussing LPRs in or on law enforcement vehicles has also been indefinitely deferred.
[Clarification: Earlier, we reported the pilot program was adopted. To be clear, it is part of the amended bills.]