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Pennsylvania Police Resist DOT's Plan to Eliminate Registration Stickers, Implement Plate-Scanning Tech

PennDOT recently announced a cost-saving measure to discontinue registration stickers in favor of Automated License Plate Readers, but several local police chiefs feel like they have been left in the dark about the new system.

by Jared Stonesifer, Beaver County Times, Pa. / February 16, 2016

(TNS) -- Drivers in Pennsylvania will no longer be required to put registration stickers on their cars starting next year, and police will instead use new technology that scans license plates for information.

Police vehicles will have to be updated to include the new technology and officers will also have to be trained how to use it.

Charles Jones, police chief for Beaver Falls, said he’s been left in the dark when it comes to planning for the new technology.

He has no idea how his department will pay for the new equipment, known as Automated License Plate Readers, and no idea who will train his officers or when.

“I saw it on the news and I’m the chief of police at a fairly (large) sized police department in Beaver County,” Jones said. “And I have to watch the news to find out this information?”

His primary concern is the lack of communication from the state on how this new equipment will be financed.

“I’m concerned how this equipment is going to be purchased and I’m not even sure how it works,” he said. “There are a lot of questions we need answers to that no one is telling us.”

PennDOT has said it will save $3 million in mailing and production costs, money that will be given back to police departments as grants to help them pay for the new technology.

Dave Piuri, president of the Beaver Valley Fraternal Order of Police and a patrol office in Monaca, said he opposes PennDOT’s decision, as does the statewide Fraternal Order of Police organization.

“The last estimate I heard is that it would cost $18,000 for one of (the automated scanners),” Piuri said. “The idea that we could even get one of those readers into every police department’s hands, let alone in every police cruiser, is not realistic.”

Piuri said he wouldn’t be surprised if significant opposition arises against the measure and “there might be a push to get it repealed.”

For its part, PennDOT has said the new plate-reader technology “holds numerous advantages over the visual inspection of registration stickers, which can be counterfeited, sold, affixed to dead plates or applied to plates for which they were not intended,” according to a news release.

PennDOT is also touting the benefits for drivers, who will now only have to log into their computers to complete the registration process.

“Without the registration sticker, the future of Pennsylvania vehicle owners certainly looks brighter with respect to the registration renewal process,” said PennDOT Secretary Leslie Richards. “By further leveraging technology, we can make renewing your vehicle’s registration and having an immediate, permanent registration credential in hand as easy as spending a few minutes online from your home computer.”

Barry Kramer, police chief of Center Township and president of the Beaver County Chiefs of Police Association, isn’t buying the reasoning that the new program will save money.

“Who’s going to pay for it?” he asked. “I’ve heard that equipment is rather costly.”

Kramer agreed with other local chiefs and said he hasn’t been in contact with any state leaders about it. He also blamed Gov. Tom Wolf for “inadequately sending that information down.”

The last registration sticker will be issued Dec. 30 and drivers won’t be required to show stickers on their license plates after Dec. 31.

©2016 the Beaver County Times (Beaver, Pa.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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