Lehigh Valley

Forks Township joins push for municipal radar guns

FORKS TWP., Pa. - Forks Township, during Wednesday's board meeting, joined a growing list of Lehigh Valley municipalities that are urging the state legislature to allow their cops to use radar guns.

The Supervisors unanimously passed a resolution in support of House Bill 1272 and Senate Bill 1340, which would allow municipal police officers to use radar technology for speed enforcement.

Whitehall Township, Palmer Township and Wilson Borough are among those that have already passed such resolutions.

"We in Pennsylvania currently are the only state in the country where municipal officers are not allowed to use radar," said Police Chief Greg Dorney. "The use of radar in [the state] would greatly benefit municipal police to monitor speed complaints."

Police Chief Dorney says the new technology would give officers more flexibility in enforcement and would likely increase traffic safety in the township.

"The technology that we use today is basically hand held devices," said Dorney, explaining that the current system makes it easier for speed violators to dodge tickets by spotting officers and preemptively reducing their speed.

"With a radar gun you have the possibility to set up in different places," he said.

Dorney also added that the current equipment easily decays and often requires the help of Public Works employees to set-up adequate enforcement zones.

The board praised the initiative for neutralizing any technological inadequacies and increasing local safety.

"Our cops are at a disadvantage right now and anything that can provide security to our residents I'm strongly in favor of," said Chairman John O'Neil.

Speaking on his confidence in whether the bill currently being considered by the state legislature would pass, Dorney said it has many proponents statewide.

"It is strongly being supported by the Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police Association which I am a member of," he said.

Board member Erik Chuss speculated that fear of overreaching was perhaps the reason that Pennsylvania had become the last place to adopt such legislation.

 "I understand a major sticking point for why it hasn't passed before [is that] overzealous police is an issue or concern," he said.

The Supervisors, though, remained optimistic that the bill would pass.

"I hope this works," said Supervisor Bob Egolf.

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