WARWICK -- Recently thwarted from deploying cameras to catch speeders in his own city, Cranston Mayor Stephen P. Laffey is expected to testify Monday before the Warwick City Council on a resolution that seeks to pave the way for use of the new law-enforcement technology statewide.

Democratic Councilman Steve Merolla, the sponsor of the resolution, asked Laffey to address the Warwick council on the need for a state enabling act that would legalize cameras as a tool for enforcing speed limits.

Radar cameras photograph both the registration plate and the driver, and document the speed of the vehicle at the instant the photographs were snapped.

Last month, Laffey suspended a pilot program with Nestor Traffic Systems Inc., a Providence supplier of radar cameras, because privacy advocates and members of the Cranston City Council had argued that the cameras are illegal in Rhode Island.

The Laffey administration maintained that the pilot program had strong popular support, based on a survey commissioned in September from Alpha Research Associates, of Providence.

Paul Grimes, Laffey's chief of staff, declared yesterday: "Clearly the people of Cranston seem ready for new cutting-edge technologies to help us get better control of traffic enforcement -- but unfortunately, our elected representatives aren't."

Laffey, a Republican, accepted a Warwick Democrat's invitation to address the speeding issue here, Grimes said, because "the mayor's happy to work with anybody on a good program."

"Ten years from now, we'll be scratching our heads wondering why this was ever a debate," Grimes added. "It's going to be a common technology."

Warwick Councilman Tim Lee, a lieutenant in the Providence police and former head of that department's traffic division, strongly opposes the use of cameras to enforce speeding laws. He is expected to speak against Merolla's resolution.

Lee does support using cameras to enforce the law against running red lights, and he serves as the head of a commission charged with recommending intersections in Warwick where such cameras will be deployed.

He argues, however, that using cameras to ticket speeders does not have clear-cut benefits to public safety, but is more a question of generating revenue for municipal governments and the companies that supply the cameras.

If radar cameras were ever deployed in Warwick, Merolla said yesterday, the supplier might receive about 30 percent of the speeding fines the city collected, based on those cameras, though the terms would be negotiable.

Lee contends that speeding tickets should be issued only if a police officer witnesses the speeding and makes a judgment on whether it posed a risk to others.

Merolla yesterday rejected that argument, saying, "any time you're speeding, there's an increased chance of an accident."

He said he would ask the Warwick council to consider the results of the Cranston survey, when it votes Monday on his resolution.

The survey of 250 Cranston residents, which had a 6-percent margin of error, found that only 10 percent of respondents reject the use of cameras to identify and ticket speeders. It found that 60 percent strongly support using the technology, and 23 percent somewhat support it.

It was unclear yesterday whether the City Council would hear testimony on the Merolla resolution in committee, or before the full body.

The council's committee meetings start at 5 p.m. at City Hall, 3275 Post Rd., in Apponaug. The full council meets at 7.