The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

National News

November 8, 2013

Iowa DOT finds undercover plates missing, misused

IOWA CITY— Government agencies have lost or misused more than 200 Iowa license plates that were issued for undercover work, and hundreds more should never have been distributed in the first place, according to a report released Thursday.

A four-month review by the Iowa Department of Transportation found that 167 such plates are missing, 46 weren’t necessary for the work that was being performed and 18 were being used for purposes that were not authorized by state law. More than 500 others were issued to federal and out-of-state agencies, even though they do not qualify under the law, the review found.

The purpose of issuing the ordinary-looking plates is to allow police and government officials to conduct work that could be disrupted if their identities were known. But those plates also allow the vehicles to avoid tickets from some speed and red light cameras operated by cities because they are marked as not on file. All other government plates in Iowa are required to be marked “official.”

Gov. Terry Branstad ordered the review in July after The Associated Press reported that 3,200 plates had been issued to local, state and federal agencies. The AP reported last month that the DOT will cancel all those plates and reissue only those that are justified after establishing a formal application process, which is detailed in Thursday’s report.

The report recommends changes that would allow municipalities that operate traffic cameras to be able to search a police database to find out which agency owns the undercover plates and issue tickets when appropriate. DOT officials found no justification for the current practice of keeping that information out of the database.

The review found the plates made up a tiny fraction of the 4.2 million issued in Iowa and that the majority of them “are actively assigned to a vehicle ostensibly being used for a purpose” permitted under state law. Those include police officers conducting investigations and enforcing drug laws, Iowa Lottery employees carrying tickets and health care workers who conduct off-site visits.

Text Only
National News
  • 10 things to know for today

    Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about today:

    April 18, 2014

  • VIDEO: Boston bomb scare defendant appears in court

    The man accused of carrying a backpack containing a rice cooker near the Boston Marathon finish line on the anniversary of the bombings was arraigned Wednesday. He's being held on $100,000 bail.

    April 17, 2014

  • Consumer spending on health care jumps as Affordable Care Act takes hold

    Nancy Beigel has known since September that she would need hernia surgery. She couldn't afford it on her $11,000 yearly income until she became eligible for Medicaid in January through President Barack Obama's signature health care law.

    April 17, 2014

  • Astronomers spot most Earth-like planet yet

    Astronomers have discovered what they say is the most Earth-like planet yet detected — a distant, rocky world that's similar in size to our own and exists in the Goldilocks zone where it's not too hot and not too cold for life.

    The find, announced Thursday, excited planet hunters who have been scouring the Milky Way galaxy for years for potentially habitable places outside our solar system.

    April 17, 2014

  • Defend 'Obamacare' unabashedly, some Democrats say

    With enrollments higher than expected, and costs lower, some Democrats say it's time to stop hiding from the president's health care overhaul, even in this year's toughest Senate elections.

    Republicans practically dare Democrats to embrace "Obamacare," the GOP's favorite target in most congressional campaigns. Yet pro-Democratic activists in Alaska are doing just that, and a number of strategists elsewhere hope it will spread.

    April 17, 2014

  • Oklahoma gay-marriage case before US appeals court

    Lawyers for two Oklahoma women and the county clerk who would not give them a marriage license go before a federal appeals court with a familiar question for the judges: Did the state's voters single out gay people for unfair treatment when they defined marriage as a union between one man and one woman?

    April 17, 2014

  • Mankato.jpg Players protest rehiring of fired Minnesota coach

    The University of Minnesota-Mankato football team Wednesday boycotted the fired head coach who won his job back in an arbitrator's ruling last week, nearly two years after fighting accusations of child pornography and other misconduct.

    April 17, 2014 2 Photos

  • 10 Things to Know for Today

    Your daily look at late-breaking news, upcoming events and the stories that will be talked about today:

    April 17, 2014

  • Court to weigh challenge to ban WASHINGTON (AP) -- As political campaigns begin to heat up, the Supreme Court is deciding whether false accusations and mudslinging made during an election can be punished as a crime. Addressing an issue of negative campaigning that now may be a fact

    April 17, 2014

  • Police: Utah woman gave birth at home

    A Utah woman accused of concealing seven pregnancies before strangling or suffocating her newborns gave birth each time in her home, authorities said Wednesday.

    Investigators have determined that Megan Huntsman, 39, did not go to a hospital to have the babies, Pleasant Grove Police Capt. Mike Roberts said. He didn't say if anybody helped her give birth.

    April 16, 2014

AP Video
Facebook