State House Sound Bites

Capitol reporter Mary Wilson covers Pennsylvania politics and issues at the Pennsylvania state capitol.

Local speed radar bills stuck in park

Written by Mary Wilson, Capitol Bureau Chief | Jun 18, 2014 6:50 PM
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Supporters of putting radar guns in the hands of local police are making noise again at the state Capitol, where state lawmakers have debated the restrictions on speed radar for decades. But there's no indication change is coming any time soon.

Only state police are allowed to use radar to flag speed violations in Pennsylvania. For decades, lawmakers have debated whether local police should be allowed to use the tool, which local government officials say is more accurate and cheaper than other authorized methods for catching speeders.

Skeptics say towns would set up speed traps just to generate revenue.

"As the local government officials say, tongue in cheek, 'Yeah it's for safety, John,'" said Sen. John Wozniak (D-Cambria) at a recent hearing. "I think that's historically been our concern... that it's a money-raiser for local governments, and not the safety issue that the police are interested in."

But Sen. Randy Vulakovich (R-Allegheny), a former cop, said local police can be trusted not to abuse radar.

"We give you guns, we give you spray, we give you everything in the world," said Vulakovich.

There are at least six pending bills to allow local police to use speed radar. No votes are scheduled on any of them.

"We'll take a look at those and make a determination if we should move a bill, which bill we should move," said Sen. John Rafferty (R-Montgomery), chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee. His proposal comes with language to discourage municipalities from relying on speed traps for local revenue.

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