April 28, 2014
License Plate Scanners Make Huge Mistake In Kansas

A false reading on a license plate scanner in Kansas resulted in the stop of an innocent man on the way back from a sonogram appointment with his wife. Prairie Village attorney Mark Molner told the local media that a law enforcement officer pulled him over and approached with his service weapon out of its holster.

The Kansas attorney also stated that while the Prairie Village police officer did not point his gun directly at him, it was drawn. "I am guessing that he saw the shock and horror on my face and realized that I was unlikely to make a scene," Molner added.

Molner has this to say about the license plate scanner traffic stop:

"As there were tons of cars around me, I was not certain who they were pulling over, but as I had been at the light some time, I did not think that I had had the opportunity to do anything to interest the officers, so when traffic permitted, I pulled forward with it, slowly. At that time, the cruiser darted in front of me and attempted to pin me by parking diagonally across both lanes of traffic, and the motorcycle took up a place directly behind me."
After several minutes of discussion between the two law enforcement officers near the squad car, one officer told Molner that the license plate scanner feed said the attorney was driving in a stolen car. The cruiser-mounted scanner was incorrect, a "misreading" had occurred when the deciphering a 7 on Molner license plate as 2, according to the Prairie Village Post.

The license plate scanner reportedly informed the Prairie Valley police officers that Molner was driving a stolen Oldsmobile, the Kansas attorney was actually inside a black BMW. Police representative Captain Wes Lovett said the scanner issued the stolen vehicle warning as the cruiser was traveling westbound on 75th Street, Molner was driving eastbound. According to Lovett, the police cruiser has to make a turn and then "catch up" to the attorney's car before stopping the vehicle.

Lovett also had this to say about the license plate scanner error:

"Due to rush hour traffic, he [police officer] was unable to compare the two tags prior to activating a traffic stop. What he did know is the tag from the license plate reader came back to an Oldsmobile, however, that doesn't mean the tag isn't stolen."
While Mark Mohler is not interested in filing any legal action over the traffic stop, he does question if an officer should unholster his weapon during such an incident. "I'm armchair quarterbacking the police, which is not a good position to be in. But, before you unholster your gun, you might want to confirm that you've got the people you're looking for," the Kansas lawyer said.

The Prairie Village Police Department placed the Directed Patrol Unit scanner inside the cruiser was added to the law enforcement fleet last April. The license plate numbers are then reportedly added to a database of vehicles which are known to be associated with criminal activity. The police department stated that the license plate scanner have aided in the capture of a "number of criminals" since the program began. According to Lovett, false readings do happen "from time to time" but such incidents are "infrequent" and no false arrests have occurred.

What do you think about license plate scanners?

[Image Via: Shutterstock.com]