For the second time in the past year, retired Blade editor Thomas Walton has opined on the issue of front license plates in Ohio (“‘Ohio Pride’ an embarrassment; time to drop front plate,” op-ed column, July 1).
Mr. Walton says that by eliminating the requirement of a front plate, the state can save an estimated $1.5 million annually. He says that all five states that surround Ohio don’t require a front plate.
Five wrongs do not make a right. Ohio has it right and should not waver.
Imagine for a moment that your child has just been abducted from a local park. An alert witness wrote down the license plate number. An Amber Alert has been immediately broadcast for area law enforcement.
Police officers on patrol search roads leading from the area of the reported abduction. They can glance at the front plate of every approaching car.
In a state that requires no front plate, police could twist their necks to the side as every approaching car passes, and attempt to read the rear plate as the car drives away at 40 mph. The former method is efficient, the latter nearly impossible.
Amber Alerts are rare, but officers search every day for felony suspects by checking license plates.
A police officer, like a carpenter or plumber, needs tools to do a proper job. Don’t take away those tools. A front license plate on a vehicle is a valuable tool, just like the officer’s portable radio, handcuffs, and service weapon.
A good, conscientious police officer constantly looks at the front license plates of oncoming vehicles, and compares them to those on his “hot” sheet — a list of license plate numbers of stolen vehicles and vehicles that are wanted in connection with serious crimes, normally felonies.
More police departments, including Oregon’s, have acquired automated license plate readers. These systems use technology to read plates and tell an officer in seconds whether the vehicle is stolen or possibly involved in a serious crime. They work great and are used at Ohio Turnpike entrances.
I have the utmost respect and admiration for Mr. Walton. I enjoy his columns immensely. However, on this issue, I never will be persuaded against my belief that eliminating the front license plate would be a bad decision.
Chief of Police, Oregon