Plate Hunter's Lookin' an Eye on You

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago

It’s hard to argue against a law enforcement device that automatically scans license plates, checks the police data banks for infractions (stolen vehicle, traffic violations, etc.) and immediately informs the officer of any outstanding warrants or “issues.” According to the cop showing the $22k roof-mounted system to Newsday reporter Michael Frazier, the “Plate Hunter” reduces an entire day’s [theoretical] checking to 30 seconds. The New York Civil Liberties Union makes the case against using these electronic number plate readers to create a proposed “Ring of Steel” inside Manhattan. "From our perspective, police should be in the business of investigating crimes, not tracking law-abiding citizens," said Christopher Dunn, the group's associate legal director.

Robert Farago
Robert Farago

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4 of 15 comments
  • Martin Albright Martin Albright on Jul 16, 2007

    Here's a question: If police officer is driving behind you, can he punch your license plate into his computer to see if you have any outstanding warrants or if the car is stolen? Even if there is no suspicion on his part, just the fact that your license plate is in front of him? Yes, he can. Your license plate is publicly displayed and the officer can "run" your plate for any reason or for no reason. You do not have a reasonable expectation of privacy of your license plate number. So...if this technology is simply doing the same thing that the officer could do by hand, what is the problem? That it may be able to do it faster, more often, or more efficiently doesn't change the nature of what the officer is doing.

  • GMrefugee GMrefugee on Jul 16, 2007

    Law abiding citizens should always come up clean anyway, right?

  • VLAD VLAD on Jul 16, 2007

    Police aren't the revenue agents as much as the corrupt politicians at city and state level that take kickbacks from the private companies that install traffic cameras. Then they start fudging with the timing of the lights if the revenues are not high enough. Police taking people with suspended licenses and no insurance, as well as habitual offenders, off the road makes it safer for everyone. If we could just get insurance companies to reflect that in our rates.

  • Hal Hal on Jul 16, 2007

    Cops in Chicago are out looking for city stickers this week. Anything that males the revenue collecting more efficent and allows more cops to do real police work is fine by me. What I really hate is when you get a ticket in nowhere Indiana and a week later you get the letter offering an "infraction deferral program" for an extra fee on top of the ticket.