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Pa. officials seek law for radar use

May 11, 2001

Pa. officials seek law for radar use



By RICHARD F. BELISLE / Staff Writer, Waynesboro


Pennsylvania is the only state that bans police departments in its small towns and boroughs from using radar to stop speeders.

Now, many small towns are trying to lobby the Pennsylvania Legislature to pass a law that would allow their police departments to track speeders with radar much as the Pennsylvania State Police do.

In the last two weeks, the borough councils in Greencastle and Waynesboro and the Washington Township Supervisors passed resolutions that have them speaking with a single voice in asking the legislature to pass a radar law.

"We thought that with a joint resolution, we'd have a better chance to get a bill through," said Kenneth Myers, Greencastle borough manager.

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Greencastle Police Chief Terry Sanders said his officers go after speeders with official timing devices including VASCAR and a chronometer, both of which measure the time it takes a vehicle to pass between two points, usually painted lines in the road.

"A chronometer is like a glorified stopwatch," Sanders said. He said the device, about the size of a cell phone, is certified for accuracy.

Sanders said police departments in small towns in Maryland, including Thurmont, Emmitsburg and Brunswick, have been using radar to catch speeders for more than 30 years. "We're just asking to use the same tool," he said.

He said radar would make enforcement of speed limits on the borough's 11 miles of roads easier for the police department. "We wouldn't be restricted to places with painted lines. We could set up radar anywhere," he said.

Another advantage of radar is that it takes only one officer to operate it, Myers said

Sanders said his department does not keep statistics on speeding arrests.

Sgt. Vernon Ashway of the Washington Township Police Department said his officers also use measuring devices to nab speeders. He said they are limited in that they need a straight stretch of road to be effective. "With radar we could set up anywhere," he said.

Ashway said his department gets a lot of complaints about speeding on Country Club Road, but with its curves and bends it's difficult to use devices like chronometers. "If we had radar, we could target an area," he said.

Ray Shultz, chief of the Waynesboro Police Department, said his officers use VASCAR and chronometers.

Shultz said he likes radar better than the timing devices. "It doesn't rely on the officer," he said.

Shultz said his department doesn't focus on speeding.

"With our time constraints, we don't have time to set up speed traps," Schultz said.

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