Supporters turned out in force this week at a hearing on a bill that would give municipal police department the ability to use radar and other technologies to catch speeders. Pennsylvania Senator Barry Stout of Washington County chairs the Senate Transportation Committee. He says the provision would apply to all full time police departments. Right now only the Pennsylvania State Police are permitted to use radar. The committee heard from the State Police, the Pennsylvania Police Chiefs Association, the Fraternal Order of Police, the Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors, and John Dorin, Mayor of Montoursville Borough. Supporters of the proposed legislation say it’s a matter public safety. Each year, about 1,500 traffic fatalities occur in Pennsylvania with nearly 50% of them being attributed to speeding and aggressive driving. Pennsylvania is the only state that does not permit local police departments to use radar. Detractors say local police departments will use the technology as a ‘cash cow’ to shore up sagging budgets. In answer to that Senate Bill 554 would place a cap on how much money a municipality could collect in fines. A municipality could not get more than 5% of it's annual budget from tickets. Any money collected over the cap would go to the State Police for highway safety.
At the hearing State and local police also requested that they be permitted to use other speed-detection technology such as the relatively new device “LIDAR” (Light Detection and Ranging). LIDAR sends out an infrared laser beam rather than a radio wave. 92% of the states, including all of the states surrounding Pennsylvania, use LIDAR.