O.C. aims laser radar at Route 52 speeders
By MICHAEL MILLER Staff Writer, (609) 463-6712
Published: Friday, August 4, 2006
OCEAN CITY — Drivers who take the Ninth Street bridge had better watch their speed.

Police said they are cracking down on speeders when construction of the new Route 52 causeway begins next month.

Motorists face double the fines and double the points on their licenses if caught speeding here. This road will be considered a construction zone for the next three years, or until the new Route 52 causeway is complete, Sgt. Charley Simonson said.

“No warnings — summonses,” Simonson said. “Especially Route 52. They've been having a field day.”

Most locals know from experience that Route 52, the busiest of four bridges into Ocean City, is a common haunt for police radar enforcement. But with recent lane restrictions and related issues on the causeway, police have not been running radar here as frequently.

That's about to change, Simonson warned.

Two new laser radar guns the city bought this year will help in the department's efforts, Simonson said. Ocean City is the first local department in Cape May, Atlantic or Cumberland counties to use them, he said.

Simonson demonstrated the new laser guns Thursday along Roosevelt Boulevard. The radar guns are accurate at measuring distance to within six inches at 3,000 feet or 1 mph at the same distance, he said.

Police generally will be using them at a shorter distance of less than 1,000 feet or the equivalent of two city blocks.

The manufacturer certified the accuracy of both units this year. But Simonson also had the state Division of Weights and Measures examine and certify the guns this year. The guns are labeled with the same bright blue state sticker that appears on gas-station pumps.

At $3,000 each, they cost about as much as the radar units mounted in police cars.

Simonson said traditional radar units mounted in Ocean City police cruisers produce a cigar-shaped signal that reads vehicles traveling in front of or behind the officer.

Police will use the new laser units to actually track individual cars in tight traffic using a sight common to rifles.

Patrolman Craig Wilson, who works in the Traffic Safety Unit, can attest to the radar gun's pinpoint accuracy.

“I can read bicyclists or even pedestrians. I was able to get a sea gull with it,” Craig said. “It was going 6 mph. Pretty neat, huh?”

Neat might not be the first word that comes to mind for motorists.

The city's Traffic Safety Unit plans to use the guns as well as traditional radar to catch speeders in large numbers. Simonson said his unit will put one officer — perhaps in plain clothes — alone on a sidewalk and have marked police cars ready to pull over multiple speeders at once.

“I could be in pair of shorts on someone's front porch drinking a glass of iced tea and catch you,” he said. “I'm telling the fish now I'm coming fishing.”

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