SPEEDING drivers will have to watch out for general duty police as well as highway patrol officers as NSW police expand the use of mobile radar guns.
The move follows a request by senior police that some general duty officers be equipped with the hand-held Lidar speed guns, which the state opposition says the NSW government was slow to act on.
NSW Opposition Leader Barry O'Farrell today released police documents which indicate senior police in the south and west of the state had been seeking the change since late 2006.
"Despite all Morris Iemma's promises about supporting the police force, here's another case where police had to fight tooth and nail to get a sensible improvement in their capacity to stop speeding drivers," Mr O'Farrell said in a statement.
"This delay has undoubtedly cost lives."
However, Police Commissioner Andrew Scipione said the request had been accepted after due processing and only general police officers with highway patrol experience would operate the speed guns.
The Lidar hand-held radar guns are used by highway patrol personnel to track speeding vehicles.
"There was a request from a couple of regions that we would consider using more Lidar speed guns in the country, that general duties police would have the opportunity to use them, based on previous experience, and we've agreed to that," Mr Scipione said.
"At this stage ... we'll be relying on those (officers) that have previously been trained as highway patrol officers."
He denied the change in policy indicated there was a shortage of highway officers in country areas.
"I think it's more an acknowledgement that there are police out there who have previously worked as highway patrol officers that ... could bring some extra enforcement activities as part of their general duty policing role," Mr Scipione said.
"Particularly in stations where there are one or two people."
Mr O'Farrell called on the state government to "boost highway patrol numbers and give general duties police the training they need to keep our roads safe".