ALPR Aids in Capture of Domestic Terrorist with 30 Improvised Bombs

Kurt Cofano was arrested with 30 improvised bombs along with numerous weapons, homemade detonators and chemicals used in making explosives in his vehicle. According to his criminal complaint, Cofano was arrested for possession of homemade bombs and in connection to online threats which included threatening to “blow up” the Treasury Department in Harrisburg, PA, and to “go to the CIA headquarters in [Washington] D.C. and take out as many [expletives] as I can before I get gunned down,” according to Whitehall Borough Police, who assisted in the case.
Kurt Cofano was arrested with 30 improvised bombs along with numerous weapons, homemade detonators and chemicals used in making explosives in his vehicle. According to his criminal complaint, Cofano was arrested for possession of homemade bombs and in connection to online threats which included threatening to “blow up” the Treasury Department in Harrisburg, PA, and to “go to the CIA headquarters in [Washington] D.C. and take out as many [expletives] as I can before I get gunned down,” according to Whitehall Borough Police, who assisted in the case.

Terrorism, both domestic and international, has become a menace of modern life in the United States; so much so that the ‘Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS), issued a brief last month predicting that terrorism would become worse in the U.S. in the coming year.

In February, the New York Times reported that the threat of domestic terrorism has even outpaced that of Islamic extremism.

As such, it is a mistake to underestimate the dangers posed by homegrown terrorists.

Last week, police in Western Pennsylvania found out just how real that danger could be when PlateSmart Technologies, a Platinum Winner in the 2019 ‘ASTORS’ Homeland Security Awards Program newly nominated to compete in the 2020 ‘ASTORS’ Program, helped them to thwart the threat of a domestic terrorist.

According to, Kurt James Cofano was seen on social media making imminent threats to “blow up” the Treasury Department in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, before attacking CIA headquarters in Washington, D.C. and getting “gunned down.”

Kurt Cofano
A tweet from @PghBoogey on June 2 (at left) and a photo of Kurt Cofano shared on Facebook in July 2018. (Courtesy of Twitter and Facebook)

News website Wonkette reported that on May 31, he made threats on YouTube against Black Lives Matters protesters in Pittsburgh.

In response, the Whitehall Borough Police Department issued a be-on-the-lookout (BOLO) bulletin for lone-wolf terrorist Cofano’s Mercedes-Benz.

On June 9th, the PlateSmart automatic license plate recognition (ALPR) vehicle recognition system alerted the Mt. Lebanon Police Department (MLPD) of Cofano’s vehicle and location.

Authorities made a traffic stop, and during Cofano’s arrest, the MLPD found 30 improvised bombs in his vehicle along with numerous weapons, homemade detonators and chemicals used in making explosives.

PlateSmart founder and CEO John Chigos, an industry expert who established PlateSmart in the early 2000’s in response to the Oklahoma City bombing, followed by the 9/11 attacks, said Cofano is nothing more than a domestic terrorist and his apprehension potentially averted the deaths of countless innocent lives, regardless of political agendas.

Chigo has been a leading proponent of the use of ALPR to prevent crime and terrorism.

“The best law enforcement technology is the kind that prevents crime proactively, because it keeps officers and citizens alike safe,” he explained.

“And that’s the whole reason I started PlateSmart.”

“Stopping Cofano from detonating a single bomb, much less the 30 he was carrying, or shooting a single individual undoubtedly validates the technology.”

Lone-wolf terrorists — domestic or otherwise — are particularly difficult to stop in advance because of their ability to stay under the radar.

However, it is when planning an attack that they become vulnerable.

In Cofano’s case, he posted his intentions to social media.

But, according to Chigos, ALPR and vehicle recognition in addition to other intelligence is another tool in the law enforcement arsenal that can assist in the prevention of a terrorist attacks and criminal activities.

“Any terrorist has to pick a site to attack,” he said.

“Most don’t come right out and say, ‘I’m going here,’ like Cofano did.”

“Instead, they often ‘case’ the potential target by circling it in a vehicle or parking nearby for extended periods of time.”

“These behaviors stick out, and they’re something our technology can easily identify and alert law enforcement and augment other intelligence they may have gathered.”

John Chigos, CEO of PlateSmart Technologies is reaching out to ALPR industry players in a call-to-action, stressing the importance of industry experts coming together to discuss ALPR Best Practices.
John Chigos, Founder & CEO of PlateSmart Technologies

Privacy advocates have long argued that technology like ALPR is itself dangerous because it has the potential to violate individual privacy.

However, Chigos said that the clear efficacy of the technology in saving lives must be considered when making such arguments.

“Fortunately, we will never know how many lives the Mt. Lebanon Police Department saved by using our technology,” he said.

“Whether it was one or 1000, what’s important is that the technology clearly stopped another senseless tragedy from occurring.”

“The life-saving nature of ALPR and vehicle recognition can no longer be denied.”

(See a brief introduction and demonstration of PlateSmart ARES Automatic License Plate Recognition software solution demonstration. Courtesy of PlateSmart Technologies and YouTube.)

The Mt. Lebanon Police Department is one of more than 100 law enforcement clients of security systems integrator Plate Capture Solutions, Inc. (PCS).

PCS recently chose PlateSmart ARES® ALPR and vehicle recognition to replace Rekor for those clients.

An AI-based enterprise-grade ALPR and vehicle recognition solution, PlateSmart ARES is a full suite of tools for administration, alerting, quick research, and powerful AI-driven analytics.

It is a software-only, camera-agnostic solution that can integrate with virtually any existing security infrastructure.

(For example, see this brief demonstration of PlateSmart ARES automatic license plate recognition software working with AXIS Communications based IP cameras, also a 2019 ‘ASTORS’ Homeland Security Award Winner. Courtesy of PlateSmart Technologies and YouTube.)

Beyond its popularity with law enforcement agencies from the federal level on down, PlateSmart ARES is also a major provider of perimeter security solutions to large organizations throughout the U.S. and around the world.

PlateSmart Nominated to Compete in Fifth Consecutive ‘ASTORS’ Awards Program

2019 'ASTORS' Awards Program Banquet Luncheon
2019 ‘ASTORS’ Awards Program Banquet Luncheon

The Annual ‘ASTORS’ Awards Program is specifically designed to honor distinguished government and vendor solutions that deliver enhanced value, benefit and intelligence to end users in a variety of government, homeland security and public safety vertical markets.

Deanne Criswell
Deanne Criswell the Commissioner of the New York City Emergency Management Department is responsible for oversight of the City’s efforts to plan and prepare for emergencies, educate the public about preparedness, coordinate emergency response and recovery, and disseminate emergency information.

The Annual ‘ASTORS’ Awards is the preeminent U.S. Homeland Security Awards Program highlighting the most cutting-edge and forward-thinking security solutions coming onto the market today, to ensure our readers have the information they need to stay ahead of the competition, and keep our Nation safe – one facility, street, and city at a time.

American Security Today is pleased to announce that Deann Criswell, the NYC Emergency Management Commissioner will deliver the keynote address at the 2020 ‘ASTORS’ Awards Presentation Luncheon Banquet in New York City.

90% of ‘ASTORS’ Award Winners return to compete in the Annual ‘ASTORS‘ Homeland Security Awards Program, and 100% of ‘ASTORS’ Sponsors have returned year to year to reap the benefits of their participation in the industry’s largest and most comprehensive Annual Awards Program.

Nominations are now being accepted for the 2020 ‘ASTORS’ Homeland Security Awards at

Comprehensive List of Categories Include:

Access Control/ Identification Personal/Protective Equipment Law Enforcement Counter Terrorism
Perimeter Barrier/ Deterrent System Interagency Interdiction Operation Cloud Computing/Storage Solution
Facial/IRIS Recognition Body Worn Video Product Cyber Security
Video Surveillance/VMS Mobile Technology Anti-Malware
Audio Analytics Disaster Preparedness ID Management
Thermal/Infrared Camera Mass Notification System Fire & Safety
Metal/Weapon Detection Rescue Operations Critical Infrastructure
License Plate Recognition Detection Products And Many Others!

Don’t see a Direct Hit for your Product, Agency or Organization?

The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the 2019–20 coronavirus outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) on 30 January 2020 and a pandemic on 11 March 2020. Local transmission of the disease has occurred across all fifty states in the America.

With the unprecedented occurrence of the COVID-19 pandemic, the focus of the safety and security industries has realized the need to increase innovations to address the daily growing challenges.

As such AST aims to make sure these firms and professionals are reflected in the 2020 ‘ASTORS’ Awards Program, so we’d like to encourage you to submit appropriate categories recommendations and include COVID-19 Frontline Professionals in your Nominations to see that these Professionals, Facilities, and Vendors receive the Recognition they Deserve!

Submit your category recommendation for consideration to Michael Madsen, AST Publisher at:

The 2019 ‘ASTORS’ Awards Program surpassed expectations with a record number of nominations received from industry leaders and government agencies, and drew over 200 attendees to the ‘ASTORS’ Awards Presentation Banquet – an exclusive gourmet luncheon and networking opportunity which filled to capacity, before having to turn away late registrants.

The 2019 ‘ASTORS’ Awards Luncheon featured an impassioned and compelling keynote address by William (Bill) Bratton, former police commissioner of the NYPD twice, the BPD, and former chief of the LAPD, on the history of policing in America and the evolution of critical communication capabilities in our post 9/11 landscape.

The event featured an impassioned and compelling keynote address by William J. Bratton, former police commissioner of the New York Police Department (NYPD) twice, the Boston Police Department (BPD), and former chief of the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), as he walked attendees through 50 years of American policing history, the impacts on the communities, and the evolution of critical communication capabilities in our post 9/11 landscape.

Commissioner Bratton, one of the world’s most respected and trusted experts on risk and security issues and Executive Chairman of Teneo Risk a global advisory firm, was recognized as the ‘2019 ‘ASTORS’ Person of the Year’ for his Lifetime of Dedication and Extraordinary Leadership in Homeland Security and Public Safety.

The 2019 ‘ASTORS’ Awards Program was sponsored by ATI SystemsAttivo NetworksAutomatic SystemsDesktop Alertand SWORD Technologies, every one a returning Sponsor from 2018.

Why the ‘ASTORS’ Homeland Security Awards Program?

2019 ‘ASTORS’ Homeland Security Awards Luncheon at ISC East

American Security Today’s comprehensive Annual Homeland Security Awards Program is organized to recognize the most distinguished vendors of physical, IT, port security, law enforcement, and first responders, in acknowledgment of their outstanding efforts to ‘Keep our Nation Secure, One City at a Time.’

Over 200 distinguished guests representing Federal, State and Local Governments, and Industry Leading Corporate Firms, gathered from across North America, Europe and the Middle East to be honored among their peers in their respective fields which included: 

  • The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)
  • National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC)
  • United States Marine Corps
  • The Federal Protective Service (FPS)
  • Argonne National Laboratory (ANL)
  • United States Postal Inspection Service
  • DHS S&T 
  • United States Marshals Service (USMS)
  • The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey Police (PAPD)
  • The Department of Justice (DOJ)
  • The New York State Division of Homeland Security & Emergency Services (NYS DHSES)
  • United States Border Patrol
  • AlertMedia, Ameristar Perimeter Security, Attivo Networks, Automatic Systems, Bellevue University, BriefCam, Canon U.S.A., CornellCookson, Drone Aviation, FLIR Systems, Hanwha Techwin, HID Global, IPVideo Corp., Konica Minolta Business Solutions, LenelS2, ManTech, Regroup Mass Notifications, SafeLogic, SolarWinds, Senstar, ShotSpotter, Smiths Detection, TCOM LP, Trackforce, Verint, and More!

From innovative Military Cyber Programs, to LocalState and Federal Public Safety and Emergency Management Initiatives, New Physical and IT Products and Services, and Security Professional, Threat Assessment, Emergency Preparedness, Law Enforcement and Homeland Security Education and Training Opportunities – Join your ‘ASTORS’ Award-Winning Peers and Receive the Recognition You Deserve!

Excellence in Public Safety and Government Security Award Nominations are also encouraged, such as those 2019 Honored Winners which includes the DEAU.S. Marine CorpsDHS S&TFederal Protective ServiceDHS S&T NUSTLU.S. Marshals ServiceU.S. Border PatrolThe Port Authority of NY/NJ, and the NYS Division of Homeland Security & Emergency Services.

Individuals are also encouraged to be nominated for Government Excellence in Public Safety and Homeland Security such as last years widely respected recipients.

Why American Security Today?

The traditional security marketplace has long been covered by a host of publications putting forward the old school basics to what is Today – a fast changing security landscape.

The traditional security marketplace has long been covered by a host of publications putting forward the old school basics to what is Today – a fast changing security landscape.

American Security Today is uniquely focused on the broader Homeland Security & Public Safety marketplace with over 75,000 readers at the Federal, State and local levels of government as well as firms allied to government.

American Security Today brings forward a fresh compelling look and read with our customized digital publications that hold readers eyes throughout the story with cutting edge editorial that provides solutions to their challenges.

Harness the Power of the Web – with our 100% Mobile Friendly Publications

AST puts forward the Largest and Most Qualified Circulation in Government with Over 75,000 readers on the Federal, State and Local levels.
AST puts forward the Largest and Most Qualified Circulation in Government with Over 75,000 readers on the Federal, State and Local levels.

The AST Digital Publications is distributed to over 75,000 qualified government and homeland security professionals in federal, state and local levels.


AST Reaches both Private & Public Experts, essential to meeting these new challenges.

Today’s new generation of public safety and security experts need real-time knowledge to deal with domestic and international terrorism, lone wolf attacks, unprecedented urban violence, shifts in society, culture and media bias – making it increasingly difficult for Homeland Security, Law Enforcement, First Responders, Military and Private Security Professionals to implement coordinated security measures to ensure national security and improve public safety.

American Security Today

These experts are from Government at the federal, state and local level as well as from private firms allied to government.

AST provides a full plate of topics in our AST Monthly Magazine Editions, AST Website and AST Daily News Alerts, covering 23 Vital Sectors such as Access Control, Perimeter Protection, Video Surveillance/Analytics, Airport Security, Border Security, CBRNE Detection, Border Security, Ports, Cybersecurity, Networking Security, Encryption, Law Enforcement, First Responders, Campus Security, Security Services, Corporate Facilities, and Emergency Response among others.

AST has Expanded readership into integral Critical Infrastructure audiences such as Protection of Nuclear Facilities, Water Plants & Dams, Bridges & Tunnels, and other potential targets of terrorism.

Other areas of concern include Transportation Hubs, Public Assemblies, Government Facilities, Sporting & Concert Stadiums, our Nation’s Schools & Universities, and Commercial Business Destinations – all enticing targets due to the large number of persons and resources clustered together.

To learn more about the 2019 ‘ASTORS’ Homeland Security Award Winners solutions, please go to the 2019 ‘ASTORS’ Championship Edition Fully Interactive Magazine – the Best Products of 2019 ‘A Year in Review’.

The ‘ASTORS’ Champion Edition is published annually and includes a review of the ‘ASTORS’ Award Winning products and programs, highlighting key details on many of the winning firms products and services, includes video interviews and more.

It is your Go-To source throughout the year for ‘The Best of 2019 Products and Services‘ endorsed by American Security Today, and can satisfy your agency’s and organization’s most pressing Homeland Security and Public Safety needs.

From Physical Security (Access Control, Critical Infrastructure, Perimeter Protection and Video Surveillance Cameras and Video Management Systems), to IT Security (Cybersecurity, Encryption, Data Storage, Anti-Malware and Networking Security – Just to name a few), the 2019 ‘ASTORS’ CHAMPIONS EDITION will have what you need to Detect, Delay, Respond to, and Mitgate today’s real-time threats in our constantly evolving security landscape.

It also includes featured guest editorial pieces from some of the security industry’s most respected leaders, and recognized firms in the 2019 ‘ASTORS’ Awards Program.

PlateSmart Takes Platinum in 4th Consecutive ‘ASTORS’ Awards Program

PlateSmart Technology

  • Best License Plate Recognition System

  • Powered by PlateSmart

  • Powered by PlateSmart is a new offering for security solution providers such as camera manufacturers, security software firms, etc., to integrate PlateSmart’s award-winning License Plate Recognition (LPR) technology into their own product offerings.

  • PlateSmart Technologies have been recognized with Award Wins in the 2018, 2017, 2016 ‘ASTORS’ Homeland Security Awards Programs.

In business since 2004, PlateSmart Technologies was the first industry player to introduce a software-only, ALPR engine powered by early AI-based object recognition technology and compatible with both state-of-the-art cameras and video management systems (VMS).

PlateSmart offers both mobile and fixed-location solutions, which are designed either to function as stand-alone tools or to integrate with third-party software and hardware.

PlateSmart ARES®, the company’s enterprise solution, provides real-time actionable intelligence with license plate number, state jurisdiction, and vehicle make recognition for complete situational awareness.


PlateSmart’s solutions are the recipients of multiple industry awards for excellence in security technology.

For more information about advertising opportunities with American Security Today, please contact Michael Madsen, AST Publisher at

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