NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — After months of debate, Metro Council voted to approve a six-month pilot program for license plate readers in Nashville with 22 members voting yes, 13 nos and one abstention.
One of the people arguing for the cameras lost his friend last week in a shooting.
Surveillance video shows two boys killing Vishal Patel while he was working at the Kwik Sak gas station in Hermitage.
Police said they might have caught the killers before the shooting if they had license plate readers because the car was stolen.
“If we equip our officers and the department with extra technology to catch these criminals, why not? I understand about our rights, out of all people I do, I was made in India. I’m a naturalized citizen so I understand about the democracy, that’s awesome freedom that we have, but at the same time, we need safety of our community, and our family and members is very important,” said Jack Patel, a friend of the victim.
MNPD Chief John Drake says police won’t use cameras for traffic enforcement. Instead, they’ll use LPRs to identify wanted people’s cars.
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Judith Clerjeune with the Tennessee Immigrant Refugee and Rights Coalition, along with other community members, is concerned about privacy.
“LPRs make it possible for police and ICE to track vehicles’ movements and the data collected can reveal intimate information about where we live, work, travel, protests, worship, seek legal support or healthcare,” Clerjeune said.
Mayor John Cooper released a statement following Metro Council’s vote to move forward with a six-month License Plate Reader pilot program:
“License Plate Readers are a proven technology that will allow us to solve serious crimes faster. I applaud Council for moving forward with the six-month pilot program set to launch this spring that will deploy this new tool and apply significant safeguards to protect residents’ privacy and civil liberties. Compared to last year, auto thefts are up over 11% throughout the city which has contributed to a 9% increase in stolen guns. LRPs will extend Metro Police’s efforts to immediately address both of these challenges — as well as pedestrian and cyclist hit-and-runs, dangerous street racing, missing persons situations and other violent crime– not day-to-day traffic violations.”Mayor John Cooper
The mayor’s office said the pilot program will launch this spring.
If it is deemed successful, Metro Council can vote in another six months to make the program permanent.