CAMDEN (July 19): If Camden Police Chief Phil Roberts had it his way, his officers wouldn't have to write speeding tickets and Camden's streets would be a little bit safer for drivers and pedestrians alike.
But since Roberts isn't the boss of everyone driving around and through Camden, and a police officer's duty is to enforce the law, there will likely be plenty of speeding tickets being passed out this summer.
"The objective of seeking publicity about the grant monies we've received to enforce speeding laws is to get people to comply with the law, not to write a lot of tickets," said Roberts.
Camden police this summer applied for and received a $5,000 grant from the Federal Bureau of Highway Safety. The funds, to be used strictly for overtime on speed enforcement in Camden, will pay for about 170 hours of overtime.
Roberts said enforcement will be focused on through-streets and state roads, which are generally higher speed areas due to cut-through traffic from one town to the other.
"The most frequent complaint in the summer is high speeds in neighborhoods," said Roberts. "We hear it time and time again."
Since July 1, Camden police have issued 20 speeding tickets, including two summonses for criminal speeding 30 mph or more over the speed limit.
The minimum speeding fine is $119, and it goes up in increments based on how much over the speed limit a person is driving, for a maximum fine of $263 when the speed is 29 mph over the limit.
Drivers caught driving 30 mph or faster over the speed limit must appear in court, where a judge decides the punishment.
This month's criminal speeders were recorded traveling 67 mph and 70 mph, both in 35 mph speed zones. The driver traveling 67 mph was traveling on High Street, near Marine Avenue, a 35 mph zone, while the 70 mph speeder was driving north of Camden Hills State Park on Route 1, inside a 35 mph zone.
While the speed enforcement detail is meant to curb speeding, it will likely nab drivers in violation of other laws, just as the seat-belt enforcement detail did earlier this year.
As proof, Roberts said that the $2,000 two-week
seat-belt enforcement grant resulted in 175 vehicle stops that yielded 65 summonses, 35 of which were for seat-belt violations.
"What we're doing now is speed enforcement, but other violations will be found," said Roberts.
Camden's speed enforcement grant will continue through mid-September.