Salisbury Township police stop speeders for safety, not to make money, Police Chief Allen Stiles told township commissioners Thursday night.
“The problem is, everybody comes to us says, ‘you’ve got to do something about the speeding in my neighborhood’,” said Stiles. “We’d love to and we try to as much as we possibly can.
“And then, on the other hand, they decide that it’s not a good idea for us to have the tools that we really need to be able to do the job that they want us to do.”
The specific tool Stiles was alluding to is radar.
The chief’s comments were in regard to the latest legislative efforts in Harrisburg to allow local police departments in Pennsylvania to use radar to catch speeders.
In June, Salisbury commissioners approved a resolution supporting proposed state legislation that would allow police to use radar.
Stiles said he appreciates the support he has gotten from the commissioners and the township manager on the radar for local police issue. “We certainly know that you’re behind us.”
Township manager Randy Soriano reported four of the 10 state representatives from the Lehigh Valley area have signed on as sponsors of the House version of that legislation.
Soriano added: “That does not mean the other six will not vote for it if this bill ever gets out of the transportation committee for a vote. The word is getting around that this is an important bill for police departments. We hope they will soon bring it out of committee and pass it.”
But Stiles is not optimistic that the proposal will even come out of committee, adding “which it hasn’t in the past 30-some years.”
Said the chief: “I doubt we’ll ever get those tools here in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, even though it’s the only state in the United States that doesn’t allow us to do it.
“It’s kind of frustrating. We are in the business of safety. That’s the only reason we want to do it. But if we don’t have the votes, we just can’t do it. That’s the way it is.”
Stiles indicated when people call him to complain about speeders, he’ll tell them: “If you would give us the tools, we could do a better job.”
Township commissioner Debra Brinton said many people think local municipalities will make “zillions of dollars” if their police departments can use radar to catch speeders.
She added: “There must be a number of people higher up in Pennsylvania who think that too.”
Stiles said the township does not get much money from the traffic citations it issues.
The chief told commissioners his police department averages about $14 “out of every traffic stop. That doesn’t pay for anything for my department. We just do it to try to make things safe.”
Elaborating after the meeting, Salisbury Police Sgt. Don Sabo said the average total cost to a driver for a traffic citation is $165 but the township gets about $14.
“If we had to run the Salisbury police department on money that we receive as part of citations, we could never ever do it,” said Stiles.
“We couldn’t run the police department with one officer with that.”