116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Two license plates are better than one, especially if your life or property depends upon it. Recently, the Iowa General Assembly started discussions of removing the state's requirement to display a front license plate, leaving only one on the rear of a vehicle. This would be detrimental to public safety for protecting property and people.
I am chief of the Hudson Police Department. On behalf of the Iowa Police Chiefs Association, I want you to know that keeping you and your property safe, along with the rest of our community, is our No. 1 priority, and of utmost importance to law enforcement across Iowa.
License plates often help us identify perpetrators of violent crimes. According to the National Sheriffs' Association, 70 percent of serious crimes in the United States involve motor vehicles, including robbery, drug smuggling, assault, murder and more. In removing the front plate, our ability to find a suspect vehicle is reduced by 50 percent.
In this day of extensive security camera coverage of private and public property, the front license plate is a valuable tool for tracking down porch thieves, burglars and violent criminals. So often, it is the front license plate, caught on video, that gives our officers the first step in solving crime and finding stolen property.
Getting rid of the current front plate requirements would have wide ranging and negative impacts on enforcing and ensuring public safety. It would decrease our ability to use identification tools for Amber Alerts and identify individuals that illegally pass school buses, endangering our children.
Burglars don't back into driveways when they come to steal packages off your porch. Robbers do not back into parking spaces at our local convenience stores in preparation to steal from them. License plates are critical in identifying vehicles that are tied to crimes, and modern technologies only work to the fullest extent if there are two plates on cars.
Ironically, it is the unheralded front license plate that falls off after a hit-and-run accident and leaves a valuable tracking item for officers investigating the incident. For law enforcement and the communities we serve, this can be a matter of life and death.
If it were your business being burglarized, your child's school bus illegally passed or your life on the line like my officers when walking up to a car, would you want one or two license plates on that vehicle? I certainly know what I would choose.
Iowa, keep two license plates. Reach out to your legislators and let them know that public safety should be a priority for our state — our lives, our property and our communities depend on it.
Daniel Banks has been Hudson police chief since September 2019. He has served in public safety departments for 18 years.