Manned radar guns nab 570 speeders in 1 week

Published: Sat, September 19, 2015 @ 12:09 a.m.


Additional police officers to be trained to use equipment

By David Skolnick


More motorists got nabbed speeding by police radar guns this week compared with last, and with additional officers set to start using the equipment later this month, the number of those caught is likely to increase in coming weeks.

The police-manned radar guns caught about 570 people speeding from Sept. 12 to Friday. That is up from 300 between Sept. 5 and 11.

Between Aug. 28 and Sept. 4, about 700 were cited.

As of Friday, the city “pulled the trigger” on 2,311 speeders, including 158 who received warnings between July 15 and Aug. 17, said Lt. William Ross, the head of the police department’s traffic unit who is spearheading the speed-gun program.

Of the 2,311, 193 were rejected by Optotraffic, the Lanham, Md., company that is processing the tickets. The company keeps 35 percent of the fees and provided the three radar guns to the department.

The rejections were because Optotraffic was unable to read the license plates or there was no front license plate on some vehicles, said Ross, who added he didn’t know which of the rejects were citations and which were warnings.

The city mailed citations and warning letters to 1,159 people and will mail 380 more on Monday or Tuesday, Ross said.

The rest are still being processed which takes about 14 to 30 days.

Meanwhile, the number of police officers using the department’s three radar guns went from three to four this week, and Ross said there is a class scheduled for next Saturday to train six other officers to use the equipment.

As soon as Sept. 28, there will be 10 officers who can use the equipment, meaning there likely will be additional enforcement, Ross said.

“We’ll have a few more shifts out,” he said.

The system allows police officers to point the radar guns at cars and have civil-fee citations issued rather than stopping speeders and giving them moving-violation tickets with a fine and points on their driving records.

However, Ross said, “If I’m in position and see someone driving 80 mph in a 55 zone, I’ll get a screen shot of them, and then pull them over to give them a ticket. The photos would be given to the prosecutor to use as evidence, but not to cite them. Other than that, I won’t hit the reject button.”

Speeders face civil penalties: $100 for those driving up to 13 mph over the speed limit, $125 for 14 to 19 mph over the limit, and $150 for those driving at least 20 mph over the limit.

The department is focusing its speed-gun effort on school zones and highways.

Interstate 680 between South Avenue and Meridian Road, where the limit is 50 mph, is where the speed guns primarily are being used.

The speed guns also are being used on state Route 711, the Himrod Expressway, and the Madison Avenue Expressway, Ross said.

A print-out of citations and warnings given to The Vindicator last week as part of a public-records request showed that the slowest speed to get a citation on I-680 was 62 mph, 12 mph over the limit.

In school zones with 20-mph limits, the slowest speed to get a citation was 30 mph.

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