Cameras help troopers nab offenders by license plate
State Police are revealing a new way they're taking dangerous drivers off the roads.
Master Trooper Shauna Kennedy has a new partner.
"I've had so many people ask me what those things are," she said.
They're license plate readers - three of them - mounted on her trunk lid.
"If I go straight on I-70 I can see pretty much all the lanes of traffic," Kennedy said.
Camera eyes that never blink. They scan every license plate they pass and if one matches a number on a state database, they sound a verbal alarm.
Eyewitness News tried them out Friday evening on I-70 downtown and in no time, the computer's voice warns, "Suspended or revoked registration."
Kennedy accelerates through traffic as she tracks the suspect car. She's following one of the most common problems on the road - people driving without a license, registration, or insurance.
"There she is, right there," Kennedy said.
But traffic is so thick and there is no warrant out for the person behind the wheel so, for safety,
"we'll let that one go," she says.
But in seconds, another hit off the license plate readers. At 25th and Keystone, Kennedy pulls over a car whose owner has an arrest warrant for earlier suspended driving charges.
"Excuse me, are you Ebony?" the Trooper asked the driver.
It turns out the two women are just driving Ebony's car. Another trooper will track down Ebony.
"I'm kind of alarmed at some of these vehicles I'm stopping. These people, with the records they have," Kennedy said.
In the last year and a half, state police license plate readers have caught:
- 244 suspended drivers
- 122 with prior suspensions
- 64 expired registrations
- 15 habitual traffic violators
- 19 arrests for other crimes
They even located a missing person. Her family was told she's alive and well.
"I'm getting a lot more sexual offenders who are on the registry, so now I make sure definitely there are no children in the car," Kennedy said,
"Suspended or revoked registration" warns the computer. And we're off to pull over another motorist.
"Are you aware you're still suspended?" Trooper Kennedy asked the woman behind the wheel.
"No ma'am," the driver said.
"You've got to stop driving 'til you get this taken care of," the trooper warned.
"I know that, thank you," said the motorist.
"It is alarming how many people out here are suspended for failure to provide financial responsibility, which affects all of us," Kennedy said.
Because if you're hit by an uninsured driver, you pay with higher premiums.
"There he is right there," Kennedy says.
Another unlicensed driver who actually has a take on the new tech.
"The days of hiding are gone. It's mindboggling," Kennedy said.
"It's fantastic," says the motorist.
Even while Kennedy is at the curb talking with a driver, the license plate readers are still scanning.
At one point, while she was away from her cruiser, the plate readers beeped on five suspicious license plates that passed.