Police officers from across Texas rallied in Austin on March 29 in support of a bill that would eliminate temporary paper license plates, which have been plagued by fraud for years.
The officers, led by Grand Prairie Chief Daniel Scesney, testified at a House Transportation Committee hearing in favor of moving away from temporary paper plates to metal tags instead, which they believe are more difficult for criminals to counterfeit and sell online.
“I don’t think anybody can look at this issue with plain common sense and come to any other conclusion that paper tags are bad for Texans,” Scesney told the committee. “So I’m optimistic that our elected officials will get this done.”
Scesney’s department has seized hundreds of fraudulent tags in recent months, many of which are replicas of the Department of Motor Vehicles’ new paper tag format that was designed to be harder to copy, according to NBC 5 DFW.
Texas law enforcement officials said that paper tag fraud is linked to thousands of crimes committed over recent years, and have previously called for the DMV to revoke car dealership licenses from businesses engaging in selling fake tags.
Now, the new bill focuses on a better solution — replacing paper tags entirely.
Grand Prairie officers who worked alongside Officer Brandon Tsai, who died in a crash in November while pursuing a car with a fraudulent paper tag, were among those showing support for the recent bill.
During the hearing, Scesney and Fort Worth Representative Craig Goldman handed out fraudulent tags made by the Grand Prairie Police Department, each with a committee member’s name on it, to demonstrate how easily the new paper tags can be falsified and reproduced.
Goldman and Scesney said they were overwhelmed by the number of officers who showed up to support their efforts.
“When we filed the bill in November, we heard from law enforcement all over this state,” Goldman said. “Very humbling. Very humbling.”
The bill is still pending in committee, but it could be called for a vote soon. Senator Royce West also introduced identical legislation in the Senate.
Goldman and West were inspired to act after seeing an NBC 5 investigative series on how criminals were becoming licensed car dealers to gain access to the state’s computer system and produce and sell tags for profit.
The Texas DMV has taken steps to shut down many fraudulent dealers since the reports in 2021, but counterfeiters immediately began to produce replica tags.
Police officers are hopeful that the legislation will help combat the fraudulent activity.
“It’s really important that we all take steps to prevent fraud and crime in our communities,” Austin P.D. Officer John Smith said. “Switching to metal license plates is one of the steps we can take to make it harder for criminals to operate.”