Bill mandates police dump license plate photos after 90 days

The Senate has passed and sent to the House a bill that requires all law enforcement agencies to destroy all records of vehicles and license plates captured by their cameras after 90 days unless a picture is part of an “ongoing investigation.”

“The government does not need to know where all Tennesseans are at all times while we’re driving,” said Sen. Brian Kelsey, R-Germantown, sponsor of SB1664.

Kelsey said many police and sheriffs’ departments use high-speed cameras equipped with automated license plate recognition systems to search for “bad guys” with outstanding criminal warrants. But they are also capturing image of “the good guys” and there is no need to keep that data on hand, he said.

He envisioned situations where one party in a divorce lawsuit would subpoena a record to provide the location of another party at a given time and said that would be inappropriate.

The bill passed 29-1 with the only negative vote cast by Sen. Douglas Henry, D-Nashville, who told Kelsey during brief floor debate, “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,”

“The harm is being done to the privacy of innocent Tennesseans who don’t need that information out there,” Kelsey said.

On the House side, the bill is sponsored by Rep. Jeremy Faison, R-Cosby, and faces its first committee vote this week.