Lehigh Valley

Palmer Township backs idea of giving local police radar

Only state police are allowed to use it now

PALMER TWP., Pa. - Palmer Township supervisors Monday night threw their support behind legislation pending in Harrisburg that would allow local police departments to use radar to enforce the speed limit.

Only Pennsylvania state police, not local police, are currently permitted to use radar guns.

Police Chief Larry Palmer told the supervisors Pennsylvania is the only state in the country that does not allow local police to use radar, and he believes it is time to change that. The supervisors agreed.

The idea to change the law is not new.

"It's been proposed and debated since I came on the job," said Palmer.

Palmer said he believes the chances of getting the law changed are "better than it ever was."

Opponents of the idea of giving local police radar have said they fear municipalities would set up speed traps in their towns as a way to generate revenue.

Palmer said he sees radar as a "very necessary tool for us," not a way to collect fines.

"Quite frankly, I don't care if we get a dime in fine money," Palmer said.

Local police are limited in their ability to stop speeders because they need "a line of sight" between two points on a road and a timing device.

Roads that are short or curvy make that method useless, he said.

If the law is changed, Palmer said the department would probably need only one radar gun and use it in areas where police receive complaints about speeders.

"I think it's a great idea," said supervisor Ann-Marie Panella. "It sounds good to me."

Legislation that would give local police radar has been introduced in the state Senate and the House.

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