Police add radar gun alternative

New lidar guns, which are more accurate, are awarded through safety grant.

By Veronica Rocha

Published: Last Updated Monday, November 16, 2009 10:05 PM PST
GLENDALE — All the city’s traffic cops will soon be outfitted with next-generation speed-detection guns as part of a $150,302 state grant, officials said Monday.

The Glendale Police Department will use $22,500 of the California Office of Traffic Safety grant to purchase five lidar guns to ensure each officer, detective and sergeant in the traffic bureau has one available to them at all times, Glendale Police Sgt. Dennis Smith said.

Lidar is more effective than radar because it is more accurate, he said.

“It accurately measures the velocity and also the range of a target,” Smith said.

Radar has a conical beam, which becomes wider as it tries to detect speeds, he said.

The remaining grant funding will pay for special enforcement activities.

The competitive grant, which is from the state agency’s Selective Traffic Enforcement Program, funds activities concerning traffic safety issues that mostly deal with drunk driving, said the agency’s spokesman, Chris Cochran.

But the grant can also be used to target speeding, red-light running and motorcycle safety issues, he said.

Glendale likely received the grant to improve pedestrian-involved collision rates and the number of drunk-driving arrests, Cochran said.

“What we are going to do is constantly look at our statistics and also the complaints that come in,” Smith said.

West Glenoaks Boulevard has been on the Police Department’s radar because some motorists use it as a speedway.

But police said they are also keeping an eye on Chevy Chase Drive, Verdugo Road, Pacific Avenue and Victory and Cañada boulevards, where they’ve conducted speed enforcement in the past.

“If they see a bunch of officers out on a certain roadway, then they are going to be less apt to speed,” Smith said.

The grant will also pay for pedestrian education.

The police traffic bureau will be constantly reviewing collision statistics to determine where it can expend its resources, he said. Part of that will include public outreach.

In the past, police have visited the city’s Adult Recreation Center, churches and community markets.

“If we can reach a lot of people, that’s what we want to do,” he said.

“If we could get community involvement, that would be great as well.”

Under the grant requirements, police must also conduct two operations directed at motorcyclists.

Smith had planned to educate motorcyclists about road safety at the annual Love Ride in Glendale, but it was canceled, so officers may target drivers who don’t yield to motorcyclists.

At Victory Boulevard and Western Avenue, a motorcyclist was fatally wounded in a crash with a FedEx truck in 2006, he said. The motorcyclist was wearing only a novelty helmet.

Two years later, a motorcyclist was seriously injured in crash at that same intersection.

Public education and specialized enforcement will also be critical to reducing the number of vehicle-pedestrian collisions in the city, he said.

“We have tried a bunch of different innovative ways to combat this problem, and I think this is a very powerful way of doing it,” Smith said.

“If we can reach people to let them know ‘You can have the right of way; however, it may not be safe to take it,’ I just think it is very important that they realize that they have to be constantly vigilant because they could easily become a statistic.”