Volunteer Radar Gunslingers Nail Speeders
By Joanne Bratton
Speeders beware. Your neighbors might have you on their radar. That's the message police departments across the country are trying to send by loaning residents radar guns and turning them into neighborhood speed watchers.
Volunteers can't ticket the drivers they catch breaking the speed limit, but their reports can result in warning letters being sent by police, depending on how fast the drivers were going.
Police say the program is worth it if it can make even a few motorists obey speed limits. "It's one more element of enforcing speed," says Lt. Daniel Furseth of the DeForest Police Department in Wisconsin.
For the past year, the village has allowed residents to borrow a battery-operated radar gun for a week or two, sit on their front lawns and record the speeds of passing motorists.
Typically, a warning letter is sent when speeds are 13 mph over the limit, but it depends on the residential area, Furseth says.
The police department has sent out a couple dozen warning letters, he says. "One parent called and was glad we sent a letter," Furseth says. "But it's not always the kids (who are speeding) - it's the soccer moms, too."