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Why Can't Local Police Use Radar to Catch Speeders?

Mayors from Whitehall, Baldwin boroughs don't see why only state police have that authority.

If you're going to speed in Baldwin-Whitehall, just be sure to do it in front of the local cops.

At a Whitehall Borough Council meeting on Wednesday night, Whitehall Mayor James F. Nowalk voiced his displeasure with laws that prevent Pennsylvania's municipal police officers from using radar to catch speeding motorists.

According to Nowalk and Baldwin Borough Mayor Alexander R. Bennett Jr., who feels the same as Nowalk does, Pennsylvania's state police officers are the only ones allowed to use radar to catch the state's speeders. And both mayors say that Pennsylvania is the only U.S. state that employs such a practice.

Bennett went so far as to call Pennsylvania a "laughingstock" because of it at a Baldwin Council meeting on Tuesday night.

Nowalk said that, despite having the authority to catch local speeders, state police seldom patrol municipalities like Whitehall, which have their own police forces. However, other minor governments in Pennsylvania do not employ their own police officers and rely on state police for all law enforcement, including speeding.

Whitehall police Chief Donald R. Dolfi was asked on Wednesday why he thought that local police forces were never given the authority to use radar in Pennsylvania.

Dolfi said that, decades ago, local police officers may not have been seen as being as qualified at their jobs as state police officers are but that that is no longer the case. State laws, he explained, simply haven't changed along with public perception.

Currently, local police forces may use technology like VASCAR (Visual Average Speed Computer and Recorder) to catch speeders, but, according to Nowalk, radar is stricter to the speed limit and more accurate than VASCAR is.

"You've got a speed limit. It has to be enforced," Nowalk said, matter-of-factly. "There is no legitimate public policy reason why municipal police should not be able to use radar."

Nowalk and Bennett are encouraging local lawmakers to support any state legislation that permits those officers to do just that.

"We're (Pennsylvania State Mayors' Association is) making a big push," Nowalk said.

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Margaret French September 20, 2012 at 03:15 PM
Better watch that GE parking lot... it is a dangerous place even when they aren't speeding. I had two really bad experiences there and I was proven 100% innocent in both cases.
Margaret French September 20, 2012 at 03:19 PM
I almost squished a chipmunk on Spring Valley the other day but since I was going slow enough the little guy found a way around my tires somehow..
Common Sense September 21, 2012 at 04:21 AM
Thomas I think Giant Eagle is open 24 hours a day so do everyone a favor and buckle your seat belt, put the cell phone down and drive the speed limit. Following the laws shouldn't be something we have to ask for...
charles n charge October 01, 2012 at 01:17 PM
I like to drive very fast in the giant eagle parking lot when IM drinking. So stay outta my way.
Chris October 12, 2012 at 09:25 PM
really 3 years ago I got a ticket on streets run road with an cop using a radar gun.

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