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New Senate Bill Forces Police To Purge License Plate Numbers

New Senate Bill Forces Police To Purge License Plate Numbers

CREATED Feb 27, 2014

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – A new bill, passed by the Tennessee Senate, will force police departments to purge license plate numbers captured by high speed cameras at intersections.

It's common practice for some police agencies to use high speed cameras to read license plates. On Thursday, the Senate placed limitations on what they can do with the information.

Police use these high speed cameras to read license plates to track down criminals. The sponsor of the bill said police shouldn't be storing the data for extended periods of time. The legislation requires police purge the data after 90 days.

"The government does not need to know where all Tennesseans are at all times while we're driving," said Senator Brian Kelsey. "We need to protect their privacy and I hope you'll vote yes."

The devices are called automated license plate recognition systems. High speed cameras combined with computers convert images of license plates into data that police can read on a computer.

Cities are placing them at intersections. Some police departments attach the cameras to patrol cars.

The Hendersonville Police Department, Franklin Police Department and the Tennessee Department of Safety all use the technology. A spokesman for the Franklin Police Department said they keep data for three years.

Senator Doug Henry of Nashville told lawmakers he didn't understand the need for the bill.

"If I'm a law abiding citizen I don't see what harm it would be by having a picture of me with my license tag of my car in the police department's file," he said." I'm afraid I miss the point."

Senator Henry cast the only negative vote. Kelsey's bill passed easily 29 votes to one. It still has to pass in the House of Representatives.