Our Pledge To You

Crime

Police roll out more cars equipped with ‘license plate reader’ technology

A Chicago Police Department SUV with license plate reading technology

Chicago Police are rolling out more vehicles able to quickly read license plates. | Provided photo

Mayor Rahm Emanuel on Tuesday announced the rollout of the first of 200 new “license plate reader” police cars that will be able to quickly identify and recover stolen cars and maybe reduce carjackings.

The technology will allow police to match license plates against the list of stolen vehicles so officers can quickly respond.

The city already has 40 vehicles equipped with license plate reading technology. With the additional vehicles, each of Chicago’s 25 police districts “will get roughly six cars for continuous patrols,” Chicago police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said Tuesday on Twitter.

“The cars build on the city’s larger strategy that has resulted in an 18 percent reduction in incidents of carjacking, and a 31 percent increase in arrests compared to last year,” the mayor’s office said in a news release.

A spike in carjackings in the opening months of 2018 spurred Emanuel to cobble together a team of local, state and federal agencies with the singular mission of reducing carjackings.

A bill was drafted early last year by policymakers in Emanuel’s office intended to close a loophole that often allows carjackers, many of them juveniles, to receive a slap on the wrist and go free or escape justice altogether.

The proposed legislation faced headwinds from black elected officials, chief among them Cook County President Toni Preckwinkle, who said the bill would unjustly result in more black people behind bars.

A version of that bill remains stalled in Springfield.

A Chicago Police Department license plate reader unit

License plate readers are being added to more Chicago Police Department vehicles. | Provided photo