NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — On Tuesday night, Metro Council will vote on approving a six month pilot program for license plate readers (LPRs) in Nashville.

Metro Council said the trial process would ensure they’re using the best equipment and that the readers are effective. They said the cameras would not be used for traffic violations like speeding, but rather for helping catch and stop crime.

Metro Nashville Chief of Police John Drake released a letter Monday night in support of LPRs. In the letter, he said if they had license plate readers, they may have caught the boys who allegedly killed a gas station employee last week in Hermitage before the shooting because the boys were traveling in a stolen car.

LPRs have been used in neighboring communities including Mt. Juliet, Brentwood, Hendersonville, and Belle Meade for years. Council members spearheading the resolution said they’re studying their practices and effectiveness when considering Nashville’s LPRs.

“We’ve been spending a lot of time, many, many months ensuring there are safeguards,” said Jeff Syracuse, Metro Councilmember representing the 15th District. “I do understand some of the concerns from folks regarding privacy concerns, but from my perspective I feel comfortable that the pros definitely outweigh the cons or the potential concerns for use of this technology. It’s got the potential to help save lives.”

The Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition (TIRRC) is encouraging people to attend the public hearing and speak out against LPRs.

“Our city works best when we can all participate and license plate readers and massive data gathering and surveillance only work to erode trust and disproportionately target Black and Brown communities,” said Luis Mata, policy coordinator for TIRRC. “That is the bottom line.” 

Chief Drake said in his letter, “This police department has no interest in using them for any other purpose other than to solve crime and keep people safe.”

The Metro Council meeting is open to the public and starts at 6:30 p.m. at the Metro Courthouse (1 Public Square, 2nd floor).

“We’re going to hopefully implement it today, and then during the six month pilot program, we’re going to gather a lot of data,” Syracuse said. “Based on that, before the end of this term, ostensibly, we’re going to either implement to keep it going or take a pause.”