SARP chief: Local police in Pa. need radar to nab speeders
By David Pierce
Pocono Record Writer
November 20, 2010 12:00 AM
Required use of antiquated equipment makes it nearly impossible for local police to improve road safety through law enforcement, Stroud Area Regional Police Chief John Baujan said Friday.
Baujan, speaking during a Safe80 Task Force meeting at the Pocono Township building, expressed frustration about state law that prevents local police from using radar to catch speeders. The task force is trying to improve motorist safety on Interstate 80 and other roads in Monroe County, where 31 people have died in crashes this year.
"We're handicapped severely with the type of equipment we're allowed to use," Baujan said. "It's crazy. For anyone to expect us to get the job done with the equipment we have, I assure you, is not going to happen."
State police can use radar to clock speeders in Pennsylvania, but local police must resort to other means. This includes employing a two-person crew to time how long it takes a driver to get from one point to another, to calculate the vehicle's speed.
Rep. Mario Scavello, who previously sponsored unsuccessful legislation to allow 1,500 municipal departments to use radar, said some legislators fear local police would use radar to establish speed traps and use it to pad municipal budgets.
Scavello said he hopes to reintroduce a bill next year that would allow five police departments of various sizes across the state to use radar on a trial basis.
"My goal is if we can't do it all let's do the test run and use one of our regionals" as a Monroe test site, he said. Stroud Area Regional Police and Pocono Mountain Regional Police operate departments serving multiple municipalities.
Several people offered suggestions for educating local motorists about the dangers of unsafe driving in hopes of reducing crashes. Jamie Keener, the task force chairman, said he wants all area school districts to reintroduce student driver education.
Nina Woodling, who coordinates a county program providing car seats to infants and toddlers in low-income families, said older students could be approached through Students Against Drunk Driving chapters.
Several people debated the merits of automatic cameras to catch speeders and deter unsafe driving. Some said Pennsylvania enforcement using photography might be impeded by an inability to identify the driver, with tickets typically issued to the owner without documenting if the owner was behind the wheel.