Bill would let local police use radar guns
Forty-nine of the fifty states allow local police to use radar guns to enforce speeding laws. The one holdout: the commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
Only state police officers are authorized to enforce speed limits with radar. State Rep. Mario Scavello, R-Monroe County, introduced House Bill 38 in January that would allow full-time police at the local and municipal levels to use radar as a tool to time drivers' speeds.
The consensus among local police chiefs is the change would be long overdue.
“I would be ecstatic if the commonwealth would finally bring the police department into the 21st century,” West Manheim Township police Chief Tim Hippensteel said. “It's a tool we probably should've had 20 years ago.”
In 2012, there were 1,310 traffic fatalities in the state and 534, nearly 41 percent, were speed-related, according to the Department of Transportation. So why hasn't Pennsylvania allowed local police officers to use radar as a tool against speeding?
“I've never heard any reason in the 12 years that I've been here that made any sense as to why we can't use them,” Southwestern Regional police Chief Gregory Bean said. “I can't think of a single reason why it would be a negative thing to do.”
A citation written for someone who was going at least 15 mph over the posted speed limit costs the speeder $157, Hippensteel said. When that is paid, it is broken up into several categories, with only $27 coming back to the municipality, Hippensteel said. The rest is divvied up into several commonwealth funds.
“We basically become tax collectors for the commonwealth,” Hippensteel said. “It seems hypocritical.”
State police said they're for local officers using radar.
“We're very much in favor of it,” said Adam Reed, state police spokesman. “Any ways to make our roads safer, we're for it.”
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.