NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – The maker of a License Plate Recognition (LPR) camera is speaking up about how the state has handled the situation.

News 2 first reported in early February about problems some License Plate Recognition (LPR) cameras are having with seeing the new dark blue plates at night. LPR cameras have played a critical role in AMBER Alert situations, tracking fugitives, and finding stolen vehicles.

Flock Safety works with 85 law enforcement agencies across Tennessee. Flock’s Vice President of Communications, Josh Thomas, said the company continues to make adjustments to resolve the matter.

“What’s unique about these Tennessee [plates], is their reflectivity is not quite as high. So, when cameras traditionally take a picture of a license plate, they rely on that being very reflective surface to be able to see that well the contrast between the characters, and that dark blue background is not the same as what it is in other states. So, we would welcome and love to be a part of testing any of these things,” said Thomas. “Unfortunately, these plates were just kind of released without any technology, kind of like us, being able to test it and see – how good they are.”

Thomas said Flock has had one conversation with the state about the issue, but there has been no other involvement.

“We had one conversation with them after we learned about the issue. And unfortunately, they just didn’t have much of a plan to resolve it. It was that, ‘hey, this is legal, we’re going to go ahead and keep rolling with this.’ We’d love to be involved in testing and helping to improve these things. Again, we just haven’t been involved in it…”

Last week, a memo from the Commissioner of Revenue talked about testing of the plate done by state troopers.

Five camera brands were used each time. The first test found two brands could read all 18 plates tested. One brand read four, one brand picked up one, and the other brand tested did not get a read on any of the plates. The second test involved five Tennessee specialty plates using another color mix. Two camera systems picked up five reads while the other three cameras did not see them.

Thomas said Flock wasn’t consulted for the testing.

The Commissioner of Revenue’s memo went on to say the state is discussing work with a national group involved in license plate standards regarding new testing opportunities.

Governor Bill Lee addressed the issue with the plates and LPR cameras at an event Monday in Spring Hill.

“I think what we’re realizing is that license plate readers come in old technology and new technology and matching technology with the license plates is what will happen across the state as agencies upgrade their technology to make sure that they can read plates. That’s what we see happening,” Governor Lee said. 

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Thomas said the ideal scenario from Flock’s perspective would be working together with the state moving forward.

“We would love to be a part of this testing, we would love to be able to get where these new designs look like before they’re issued in mass to the whole, all the residents across the state. We’d love to be involved in that and help make sure that technology can keep pace at the appropriate time and level with these government-issued plates.”

Late last month, News 2 worked with the Williamson County Sheriff’s Department to test the ongoing problem, driving a pickup with the new dark blue license plate past an LPR camera several times. Images provided by WCSO show its camera, manufactured by Flock Safety, captured the outline of the truck, but the license plate was washed out and unreadable.