Nashville, Tenn. (WKRN) – Electronic eyes are scanning the streets of several communities across Middle Tennessee.

License plate recognition (LPR) cameras watch tens of thousands of cars passing by on any given day largely without incident, but in Hendersonville, Mt. Juliet, Brentwood and Belle Meade, they’re helping police catch criminals.

Mt. Juliet added LPR technology a year ago. Police there have reported dozens of arrests involving stolen vehicles and, in some cases, the apprehension of fugitives.

Mt. Juliet 0fficers intercepted a wanted fugitive driving an overdue rental SUV, after the department’s license plate recognition cameras alerted them to a stolen Maryland license plate in February 2020. (Mt. Juliet Police photo)

Hendersonville also moved to install the camera technology early last year, setting up cameras around city parks in an effort to keep an eye on crime.

“We are trying to keep the bad guys out and protect our citizens,” Parks Director Andy Gilley told News 2 last February. “Anytime a bad guy or person of interest to law enforcement comes in here and their tag is read, it will notify our entire police department.”

Brentwood and Belle Meade took steps to install LPR cameras in 2018. This past October, Police Chief Tim Eads (who has since been elected sheriff of Dickson County) talked with News 2 the impact of the LPR cameras after the arrest of a car thief in the community.

“They are always on duty 24/7,” he said. “This wonderful technology is helping us get property back. It’s helping get wanted people back. He had an active warrant on him. It’s helping get criminals off the street.”

Nashville is now considering License Plate Recognition cameras. Metro City Councilmember Joy Styles is behind a bill that would allow police to use the cameras to help catch reckless drivers and drag racers.

Privacy concerns are part of the debate in the Metro proposal. “Does it potentially disclose some information that constituents might not want disclosed” Mel Fowler-Green, with Metro Human Resources, asked last month.

News 2 is digging deeper into the impact of LPR cameras and the probability of them expanding into other Tennessee communities.

Click here to read more from our special report – “Lights, Camera, Caught”.