Catching speeders is an everyday part of a police officer’s job. But, on local women is questioning how some officers monitor traffic – after a speeding gun scare.
Holly Mathews says she was driving on the Highway 53 bypass near Altoona, when she saw something that made her heart skip a beat.
"He looked like he was a sniper with a gun,” she said.
Mathews was driving from the Lake Hallie-area to Eau Claire when she saw that frightening sight directly above her on the River Prairie overpass.
"Right away I swerved to the right side and if there would have been a car there, you know, probably wouldn't have been a good thing."
Turns out that person was an Altoona Police officer, watching for speeders. Although Mathews says she couldn’t see his squad car.
"His car was not on the bridge,” Mathews said. “His car, I looked over and it was on the Frontage Road on the on-ramp."
Altoona Police Chief, Todd Chaney, says it’s not uncommon for officers to run laser radar on an overpass. He says they’ll usually have a back-up squad ready to pull over those lead-foot drivers.
"Normally when we do radar enforcement the officers try to get in a position where they're not a hazard,” Chief Chaney said.
Still, he says he can see how a squad-less officer standing with a laser gun could startle drivers.
"I've been in law enforcement for 37 years,” he said. “That's the first time I've ever had anyone complain about that, but I guess if you stop and think about it, in this day and age with some of the propensity towards violence that we have, that may be something we need to re-think."
We also talked with a Lieutenant from the Chippewa Falls Police Department about this speeding gun scare. He says his officers will sometimes stand outside to use their laser guns, but he says his department has never gotten any complaints.