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House Committee Backs Bill to Allow Radar Use By Local Police


Last updated 11/19/2019 at 1:29pm

The Pennsylvania House Transportation Committee recommended approval of a bill that would allow some local police departments to use radar detectors to enforce speeding laws – a bill that is “long past time,” said Mike Carroll, Democratic chairman of the committee.

An amendment introduced by Rep. Greg Rothman, R-Cumberland, drew some opposition over a clause that would make the bill applicable only to municipalities with full-time police departments.

Such a move is unfair to the 200 part-time police departments that have the same issues and the same training as the others, according to Rep. Lynda Schlegel Culver, R-Northumberland, who said the numbers show speed enforcement is needed more on the state’s rural roads.

“Pennsylvania has the third-highest number of speed-related fatalities in the United States,” Schlegel Culver told the committee. “According to data I received from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, speed-related crashes in urban areas versus rural areas from 2014 to 2018 [show] there are 9,598 more speed-related crashes in rural Pennsylvania.”

And there are 754 more deaths from speed-related crashes and 905 more serious injuries on rural roads, she said.

“All residents of Pennsylvania deserve the same ability to protect themselves,” Schlegel Culver said.

Rothman said some rural lawmakers told him they did not want radar units in local areas.

“What my amendment represents is a compromise that will at least get two-thirds of all police officers to use it,” Rothman said.

The only law enforcement officers currently authorized to use radar detection in the commonwealth are state police officers. They are willing to help municipalities who are having trouble with speeders, but are short-handed, Rep. John Lawrence, R-Chester, said.

The other 49 states allow local police to use radar detection to enforce speed limit laws.

The bill was introduced in the Senate by Sen. Mario Scavello, R-Monroe, but did not exempt part-time police departments

Lawrence questioned language in the bill that indicated municipalities could use the fines to generate revenue, Lawrence said.

“I don’t see how any ticket could hold up if that language is included,” Lawrence said.

Rothman said that his amendment limits local governments to receive just 10 percent of their total budget from speeding fines. Scavello’s original bill allowed revenue of 20 percent of a municipality’s budget.

The bill passed as amended. The issue of allowing part-time police departments to use radar detection likely will be discussed when the bill goes to the House floor, committee Chairman Tim Hennessey said.


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