Chattanooga police chief defends use of license plate cameras

(Photo: WKRN)

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) – City council members in Chattanooga have raised privacy concerns over the police department’s practice of photographing and storing license plate information.

The Chattanooga Times Free Press reports police Chief Fred Fletcher discussed the matter with the council recently as part of an ongoing conversation concerning the balance of intelligence-gathering technology and privacy rights.

He said license plate readers are valuable crime-fighting tools that do the same thing police officers do every day, only much faster.

Fletcher said cameras mounted on patrol cars automatically photograph license plates. Special software is used to compare tag numbers to lists of plates associated with stolen vehicles or other investigations.

Councilman Yusuf Hakeem said the idea of tracking people’s movements may feel like Big Brother, but the community has given the police department plenty of grief over crime.