Pennsylvania is the only state that does not allow radar use by municipal police. It’s a ban that dates back nearly 60 years. But there is new movement on this issue. The latest bill to allow municipal police to use radar was introduced earlier this month in Harrisburg, and its co-sponsors include state Sen. Ryan Aument of Landisville. “It would allow full-time municipal police officers to catch speeders using radar or lidar, its laser-based equivalent,” Stuhldreher wrote.
It’s long past time to give municipal police a crucial tool they need to make our streets and communities safer for vehicles, bicyclists and pedestrians alike.
Improving safety is something we should all be able to agree upon.
Lancaster City Council certainly does. It recently “added its voice to the chorus calling for the state to finally overturn its prohibition on radar use by local police,” Stuhldreher reported.
“It is beyond mind-boggling that we are still having this debate,” city police Chief Jarrad Berkihiser said.
We support the new bill that Aument is co-sponsoring. It would work this way, according to Stuhldreher:
• “Municipalities would first have to adopt an ordinance authorizing use of the devices and would have to post notifications on principal roads within 500 feet of their borders.”
• “Police departments would have to report their fine revenue annually. If fines exceed 5 percent of their budget or their municipality’s budget, they would have to turn over the excess to the state police.”
We believe that legislation is reasonable. There’s an understandable concern that some municipalities might try to turn speeding tickets into a revenue source, but the state Senate bill addresses that appropriately.
Lancaster City Council members “hear complaints constantly about dangerous speeding in residents’ neighborhoods,” Stuhldreher wrote. And the consequences can be devastating. Nationally, more than 25 percent of crash fatalities involve speeding and, Stuhldreher notes, “about 30 percent of speed-related fatal crashes occur on local roads, as opposed to state routes or interstates.”
That “local roads” part is crucial. Speeding isn’t just a highway concern. We need local radar enforcement to keep our local streets — so many of which pass by schools, places of worship and businesses — safer.
Non-fatality and non-injury crashes due to speeding can be bad, too. Suzy Hoover described to council a February crash on East King Street that took out a line of parked cars, causing many of her neighbors to temporarily lose their means of work transportation.
Hoover called speeding enforcement “vital for the city.”
We agree. It’s vital for Lancaster and all other county municipalities that desire the option of using radar for their communities.
Opponents say that speed limits are set too low; that radar readings can be compromised by human error; and that radar usage is more about raising money than making streets safer.
We disagree. The proposed bill in the state Senate addresses the revenue concern. It’s time — long past time — to give this tool to municipalities.