Police armed with new tool
Thursday, September 3, 2009

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Drivers beware. Thunder Bay Police has yet another weapon in the war against speeders.
It‘s called Lidar (light detection and ranging), a high-tech, hand-held speed measurement device that made its debut Wednesday in a demonstration for the media.
It works a lot like ordinary radar, except that it sends out narrow pulses or beams of light rather than broad radio waves. A receiver system times, counts and processes the returning light.
“We‘ll be using the device as an enforcement tool in the ongoing effort to make our streets safer,” said Sgt. Glenn Porter of the traffic unit.
Depending on the make and model, Porter said, Lidar units are more expensive at about $5,000 each compared to $1,500 for a hand-held radar gun. The moving radar in patrol cars costs about $1,000 a unit.
City police have one Lidar unit and want to purchase another one.
Porter said police aren‘t about to replace radar with Lidar.
“To be very clear, it‘s just different tools in a tool box.
“Radar allows us to do certain things, such as having it mounted on a moving police car, and the Lidar allows us to do detection on heavy arterials like Fort William Road, Memorial (Avenue), River (Street), construction zones and school zones,” Porter said.
Rather than phasing out radar, he said, police will be trying to equip each cruiser with moving radar in the near future.
Porter said Lidar isn‘t more effective than radar.
“That‘s another thing I‘d like to be very clear on. Both technologies are extremely accurate. It‘s just done with different applications,” he said.
“You cannot say that one is more accurate than another.”
Porter said Lidar units are not new on the market.
Thunder Bayprovincial police community services officer Const. Diana Cole said the OPP has been using Lidar since May 2007.