Will New Bills Bring Radar Guns to Pennsylvania’s Local Officers?
Law enforcement officers are equipped with an extensive tool kit, including guns, handcuffs, and tasers. But there’s one conspicuous item missing from the list: radar guns. Or at least, that’s true in Pennsylvania, the only state in the country where municipal officers aren’t permitted to carry radar guns. But now, thanks to a new collection of bills, that law may be changing. Are radar guns finally coming to Pennsylvania’s local police departments? And if so, does that mean an increase in traffic citations is on the horizon?
“I Don’t Understand Why Local Police Aren’t Allowed to Use Radar Guns”
Radar guns aren’t exactly controversial or cutting-edge. On the contrary, they’re downright mundane, in regular use throughout virtually every police department in the country.
Except, that is, in Pennsylvania.
While radar guns have long been approved for use by the Pennsylvania State Police (with a history stretching back half a century), municipal and local officials have been left in the dark.
“Radar is used by the Pennsylvania State Police as their main speed timing or speed control device that they use. It was never allowed by municipalities,” says Bethlehem Police Department Chief Mark Diluzio. He adds, “I don’t see a reason why not.”
Nor do many others, including Pennsylvania Representative and House Bill 38 co-sponsor Michael Schlossberg (D-Lehigh). “For the life of me, I don’t understand why local police aren’t allowed to use radar guns,” says Schlossberg in a perfect echo of Diluzio. “In 49 other states, local police have that option.”
House Bill 38 is bolstered by Senate Bill 1340, sponsored by Senator Randy Vulakovich (R-Allegheny/Butler), as well as House Bill 1272, sponsored by Representative Harry Readshaw (D-Allegheny).
Is the Push for Radar Guns Driven by Safety, or Profits?
The push to permit use of radar guns on the municipal level seems to “reach across the aisle,” drawing support from Republicans and Democrats alike.
SB 1340 sponsor Vulakovich, himself a former police officer in Pennsylvania’s Shaler Township, argues the change would increase officers’ overall efficiency. “With radar, you can point, click, read and make your decision,” says Vulakovich. “And if you get a call,” he adds, “you can set the radar gun on the seat next to you, proceed to the call, and then come back. So it’s actually a great asset for local departments to satisfy… speeding complaints and also be time effective.”
Meanwhile, Diluzio touches on the safety aspect of introducing radar guns, saying, “We’ve had several fatalities from major accidents [on Route 378 to Route 22] and we get a lot of complaints from citizens.”
However, the bills are not without criticism. Detractors argue that the switch to radar guns has nothing to do with increased safety or efficacy, but is simply a method of bleeding greater revenue from Pennsylvania’s motorists.
“Pennsylvania is broke,” says James Sikorski, Jr., a Pennsylvania-based member of the National Motorists Association, “which is the driver behind this.”
Sikorski adds, “I have raised these issues for years with elected officials and media, but they brush it off because if my engineering ideas were implemented, there would be no revenue in this.”
Vulakovich has expressed mixed feelings about criticisms of the bill, saying, “There will be some little things we’ll need to compromise on. But I don’t want to dilute the bill too much, because it is a good bill and some of that reasoning [against it] is just Neanderthal. It holds no water.”
Vulakovich does not think the new measures will have a significant effect on the number of citations that are issued.
If you have been issued a speeding ticket or citation, call the Philadelphia traffic violation lawyers of Young, Marr & Associates at (609) 755-3115 in New Jersey or (215) 701-6519 in Pennsylvania to schedule your completely free and confidential legal consultation. You can also contact us online.