BETHLEHEM, Pa. - They carry weapons, Tasers, and even mace, but municipal police officers in Pennsylvania can't operate a radar gun.
Currently, the law allows for only state troopers to use radar guns. Some believe allowing all municipalities to use the equipment will help them be better at their job.
Many municipal police departments are watching lawmakers in Harrisburg and hoping House Bill 38, legislation allowing officers to use radar guns, will soon pass.
"Radar is used by the Pennsylvania State Police as their main speed timing or speed control device that they use," said Chief Mark Diluzio, Bethlehem Police Department. "It was never allowed by municipalities. I don't see a reason why not."
The idea has been introduced at the state Capitol several times, but there may finally be enough support this year to give municipalities another tool to help officers protect and serve.
"For the life of me, I don't understand why local police aren't allowed to use radar guns," said Pa. Rep. Michael, Schlossberg. "In 49 other states, local police have that option."
Schlossberg, who co-sponsored the bill, knows some are against the move because they fear municipalities would use the equipment as a revenue source.
"You could make that same argument for any ticket that they issue," said Schlossberg. "At some point we've just got to let them do their jobs and, again, keep all of us safe."
Diluzio said he knows exactly where he would use radar guns.
"I would say [Route] 378 from [Route] 22 to the Hill to Hill bridge," said Diluzio. "We've had several fatalities from major accidents and we get a lot of complaints from citizens."
The question now is whether state lawmakers ever move fast enough to make this a reality.
"We've had a hearing. That's a step forward," said Schlossberg. "But that is one of many steps that you need in order to actually get radar in the hands of our local law enforcement officials."
Of course, all focus is on passing the state budget at this time, but Schlossberg said there is hope to possibly pass the bill in the state House after the summer break.
Allentown, PA 18102