Gaining on speeders

Higher accuracy and built-in video: advancements in laser systems make for more convincing enforcement and traffic safety


   Keys has been using the P.O.V. (Point of View) 1.5 wearable helmet video camera and system from Marquette, Mich.-based V.I.O. Inc. The system includes a mountable camera head, built-in video recorder, software for managing your point-of-view videos, and a lapel microphone that only picks up voice.

   The quality of video image capture is high, says Keys. "You can hear the officer talking directly to the driver, and can hear the driver's statements quite well, too."

   Ridgecrest PD is also using a WatchGuard digital in-car video system from WatchGuard Video of Plano, Texas. It records high-resolution digital video in real time onto rewritable DVDs that play in regular DVD players.

   "If LTI's TruCAM is comparable to the V.I.O. helmet camera," Keys says, "there will be a lot of agencies wanting to jump on this."

Still in demand

   Even though laser speed unit purchases are increasing, radar systems are still on the job in many police departments.

   Kustom Signals and Stalker Radar, two other longtime speed enforcement technology makers, offer both radar and laser speed detection systems.

   According to Kent Hayes, Kustom Signal's speed products manager, each of the two types of speed detection — radar and LIDAR — have their own legitimate applications, and many officers carry both systems in their car and motorcycles.

   "With radar, you can pick up a vehicle well over a mile away," explains Hayes. "And radar puts a wide path of energy (a 12- to 14-degree beam width) down the road. LIDAR'S advantage to radar is that it uses a very narrow width (3 feet wide at 1,000 feet) and LIDAR is target specific."

   One of Kustom Signals' most popular offerings is the Raptor RP-1 moving/stationary radar system that tracks multiple targets and graphically displays tracking history for strongest and fastest targets.

   In addition, Kustom's new handheld K-Band Falcon HR radar speed enforcement tool is used by traffic motorcycle officers for isolating traffic in one direction. The "K band" is a microwave band of the electromagnetic spectrum, and covers frequencies of 26.5-40GHz.

   On the laser side, Kustom's handheld ProLaser III allows for pinpointing targets, identification and complete tracking history, so officers can isolate a single vehicle out of a group. Both Kustom's LaserCam II and LASERwitness digital video systems allow photo and video evidence gathering.

Addressing officer safety

   While targeting speeders is the goal, officer safety is always a high priority. That is why Stalker Radar recently introduced its dash-mounted radar: Directional Sensing Radar — DSR 2X. Stalker's DSR 2X can simultaneously measure four target zones in stationary mode, and two target zones in moving mode (conventional radar can only monitor traffic in one target zone).

   But equally compelling about the DSR 2X is that it's designed to alert the patrol officer as he or she pulls out into the stream of rear traffic.

   "The Rear Traffic Alert can be set by the officer to a certain speed threshold so that it doesn't go off all the time," explains a spokesman for Stalker Radar. "But if there's something closing in really fast and the officer needs to know about it in order to take action, this is what the Rear Traffic Alert is designed for."

   Officer Dale Farmer with the Kingsport (Tenn.) PD has been using LTI's laser speed systems since 1997, alongside standard radar tools. He feels LIDAR has made speeders more aware of their offense and more willing to slow down.

   "Speeding is a problem," Farmer says, referring to traffic in the Kingsport area. With a population of just over 44,000, Kingsport has several main state routes that narrow from six lanes down to two, and two interstate freeways that cut through the city. "About 80 percent of collisions here are due to speed," Farmer notes. "Using laser systems not only slows people down, but makes them aware of what's going on."

   Kingsport PD uses both methods as each helps with speed enforcement in select situations.

   "We've found on short distances the radar is easier to use," Farmer explains. "But if we've got a longer distance or a bigger traffic area, the LIDAR works better because you can pinpoint each individual vehicle."

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