License plate readers deployed by some NJ police

Friday, March 31, 2017
License plate readers deployed by some NJ police
License plate readers deployed by some NJ police. Nora Muchanic reports during Action News at 5pm on March 31.

HOPEWELL TWP., N.J. -- Police in New Jersey say they have a new high-tech tool that can do a year's worth of patrol work in just a matter of hours.

Hopewell Twp. Police Officer Jim Klesney was on Route 31 Friday, watching both the traffic and the readout on his ALPR, or automatic license plate recognition system.

Using infrared cameras mounted on the top of his vehicle, the ALPR can instantly scan the plates of vehicles coming and going past his patrol car.

"It takes the read that it gets and it compares it to a bunch of different databases that are downloaded in the system. If it comes up with a hit on the license plate, it'll say either unregistered, or a suspended driver or a wanted person or a stolen motor vehicle," Klesney said.

On March 20, the ALPR was instrumental in the apprehension of two out-of-state suspects. Ernesto Herrera-Lesteiro and Yonder Diaz-Sanchez were wanted for the kidnapping and armed robbery of a truck driver in Maryland.

It took just a second for the plate reader to alert the officer they were driving a stolen vehicle.

"It was a good hit, and if we didn't have the system those guys might have still went out there," said Klesney.

The Mercer County prosecutor's office funded these mounted camera systems for 25 different vehicles in area police departments.

Officers still run plates manually, but the automated reader does it in an instant.

"This picks them up a lot faster and a lot quicker and can get a lot more volume than the officer himself doing it," said Sgt. Kevin Zorn.

Officer Klesney says on an average day, the ALPR will scan 30,000 to 40,000 tags.

"In a typical year for an officer we might run 8,000 or 9,000, so this is doing what we do in a year this is doing it in a day. It all depends on how much you're driving," said Klesney.