Port Authority highlights new crime-fighting technology for 3 area bridges

"License plate readers are the DNA of the highway," said one official. "It allows us to know what's going on."

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Monday, June 10, 2024 10:32PM
Port Authority unveils new crime-fighting tech for 3 bridges
Toni Yates has more on the new crime-fighting technology unveiled by Port Authority.

STATEN ISLAND, New York (WABC) -- The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is stepping up crime-fighting efforts on the three bridges connecting the two states.

Officials from both the Port Authority and Staten Island took time on Monday to highlight new vehicular tracking technology that's been installed on the Goethals and George Washington bridges and is coming soon to the Bayonne Bridge and Outerbridge Crossing.

It's a $10 million investment in state-of-the-art devices that catch license plate numbers clearly.

The technology is also already in use in the Lincoln and Holland tunnels.

The enhanced license plate readers not only allow police to track and stop stolen cars more easily, but they also make it easier to identify toll violators and stop other crimes.

Officials from Staten Island say so far on the Goethals they have been a huge game-changer.

"We had a situation where people were coming from off-island, committing crimes," said Staten Island District Attorney Michael McMahon. "We didn't have the modern tech to catch them, which was just not acceptable."

"People's kids were scared in the middle of the night with people breaking windows to get into the house and steal car keys," said Staten Island Borough President Vita Fossella.

"My cousin's car was stolen from his driveway, and it was found in New Jersey," said NY State Sen. Jessica Scarcella-Spanton.

"There were break-ins in my neighborhood including my car," said NY Assemblyman Charles Fall.

Car thefts on Staten Island skyrocketed in 2022, but began a dramatic slide going into the next year. And that number has continued to drop ever since.

"It's given us a tool to track criminal enterprises coming into Staten Island," said NYPD Staten Island Borough Assistant Chief Joseph Gulotta. "They were involved in violence. They were involved in shootings."

"LPR (license plate readers) are the DNA of the highway," said Port Authority Chief Security Officer Greg Ehrie. "It allows us to know what's going on. They help us mitigate crimes like a child being taken."

Officials say the same kind of equipment now installed on the Goethals and GW bridges and in the Lincoln and Holland tunnels will be in place on the Bayonne Bridge and Outerbridge Crossing by the end of 2026.

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