Inside Edition found more than 100 vehicles outside various courthouses and police precincts throughout New York City sporting a customization of dubious legality. Each one possessed a plastic cover over the license plate that completely obscured the plate from any angle save straight-on. Each of the vehicles also displayed a placard indicating that they were personal vehicles owned by law enforcement officers.
Inside Edition's Investigative Correspondent Lisa Guerrero caught one officer as he returned to his vehicle and grilled him about the cover.
"Are you trying to avoid paying tolls and paying tickets by having those covers on your license plate?" Guerrero asked the officer.
The officer replied that he was certainly not trying to avoid tickets or tolls by obscuring his plate, but then after a few more questions from Guerrero he sheepishly removed the plastic cover and drove away. Other officers returning to their cars tried to avoid her or ignore her. One even refused to lower his windows.
Guerrero also conducted interviews in Philadelphia where she found the same covers and got the same responses she got in New York. Both the New York Police Department and the Philadelphia Police Department released official statements in the wake of Guerrero's investigation.
"Officers must abide by all laws of the commonwealth, the same as any other citizen, which includes vehicle codes. If an officer has something obstructing the view of the license plate, then they can be cited just as any other citizen would be. This is not tolerated by the department," said a PDP spokesperson.
The NYPD even admitted that it was a known issue and they were attempting to deal with it.
"This is an issue the Department has been aware of and is working to address. The Department has instructed precinct commanders to ensure officers in their commands are complying with traffic laws and internal guidelines on license plate covers. Just this week, there were several spot inspections in lower Manhattan to ensure personal vehicles of police officers are following traffic laws."
Obscuring license plates to avoid paying tolls is especially bad because cops bust people skipping out on tolls like this all of the time. There was the retractable curtain from Florida that this guy installed to cover his plates. Then there was this trucker with his flip-up front plate that was like something straight out of Q-Branch.