Senate passes bill to give radar guns to local police officers

The Philadelphia Inquirer reported in the summer of last year that local police officers in Pennsylvania may soon begin to use radar guns to catch speeders. At the time the article was written, it was illegal for municipal police officers to use this device. Instead, it was reserved for state troopers. Pennsylvania is the only state in America that had this ban in place. Police chiefs have spent the past 50 years trying to change this. The bill to bring this into effect has been moving further and further up the line.

Troopers in Pennsylvania wrote more than 650,000 speeding tickets in 2014. In 93% of these cases, the radar gun was what the officers used to detect speeding. It is no wonder then that municipal officers want the right to use radar guns on local roads, where 30% of fatal speed-related crashes occur. In fact, speeding accounted for 27% of road fatalities in 2016.

In the summer of 2019, ABC6 News reported that the Senate had finally approved the bill that would now allow local police officers to detect speeding. The vote came in at 49 to one. Residents are thrilled at this new development, as they believe it will help to encourage drivers to slow down. Note that speeding complaints are one of the biggest issues some counties deal with in Pennsylvania.

So, what have police officers been using in place of radar guns all along? They use an expensive and bulky device that requires three police officers to set up. They then often have to leave the equipment behind when pursuing speeders. Along with the obvious drawbacks, this device is not as accurate as radar guns, which can lead to false positives or some speeders going undetected.

Critics of radar gun use say police officers are just looking for a new way to make money. Police officers insist safety is their primary concern. Whichever of these is true, one thing is certain: residents may want to slow down on the roads going forward.