NUTLEY, N.J. (WCBS 880) – Cop cars are getting a high-tech improvement.

In Nutley, N.J., the police department is installing automatic license plate readers in cop cars in order to scan plates in real time. Three cameras run the numbers to check for expired plates, to identify stolen vehicles and criminals with warrants.

“I consider this pretty remarkable stuff. Y’know when I was a patrolman this would have been science fiction,” Chief John Holland said.

 LISTEN: WCBS 880’s Sean Adams reports

When the reader identifies a suspicious plate, it alerts the driver with beeps.

“That vehicle that just passed us is coming back has expired plate,” officer Peter Graziano said.

In this case, it was false alarm. Dispatch confirmed the car was registered—no stop needed. Other times, though, the system has helped identify stolen vehicles and criminals with warrants

“I wish every one of our cars was equipped with this equipment. The state police, I understand, are introducing it into their inventory as well,” Holland said.

To address privacy concerns, the state attorney general has issued guidelines for these automatic license plate readers.

“I think his department has become aware of it. They’re gonna see more of it,” Holland said. “There’s no racial profiling inferences that can be made. Machines see what it can see. If somebody is expired or there are criminal warrants on the driver, it’s going to let us know that.”

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