SHELBY COUNTY, Tenn. – – Tennessee’s new-look license plates are quickly turning into a bad look for the state as some law enforcement agencies, including several in Shelby County, struggle to read the new tags.
Joe Patty is a security consultant and former Memphis police officer who spent his last eight years on the force running video surveillance. He said the problem is most prevalent at night.
“I think it stems from the reflectivity issue,” Patty said. “Apparently, at night it just kind of blurs out. So, certain softwares, certain cameras can’t read these tags at night.”
It’s a problem Germantown police, Bartlett police and the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office are trying to address. Deputies said their cameras are confusing the plates with designs from other states like Colorado.
“These are safety concerns for all of our safety concerns,” Patty said. “Whether it’s an Amber Alert or a violent felon, stolen car that’s been taken in a carjacking.”
Memphis Police said their cameras are reading the new tags just fine and SCSO’s camera vendor, Flock Safety, said it plans to make software adjustments and also said it’s “100 percent confident the issue will be rectified shortly.”
State Representative Joe Towns Jr. of Shelby County wonders why this issue wasn’t caught in the design process.
“Obviously, we don’t think anything like that was done intentionally,” Towns said. “It was probably I’d say hurriedly done and all the bases were not covered and there’s been a mistake.”
With more than 400,000 of these plates on the road, Towns said he’s taking his concerns to state officials.
“God forbid anything happens and we can’t do, as a law enforcement body, they cannot do their jobs at the highest level,” Towns said.
WREG asked the Tennessee Department of Revenue what’s being done to fix the problem but as of Tuesday we have not heard back.