Archive for Sunday, January 26, 2003

Shawnee considers loaning radars to residents to help catch speeders

January 26, 2003


— Officials in this Kansas City suburb are considering loaning radar guns to private citizens in an effort to curb speeding on residential streets.

The program, called Speed Watch, would let residents have radar guns to monitor traffic. Police would follow up with warning letters.

At no time, city officials say, would residents contact the violator or issue citations.

"It gives them (residents) the opportunity to see if they really are seeing excessive speeds and alerts the police to possible problematic neighborhoods," said Gary Montague, Shawnee city manager.

Several cities and counties around the nation have similar programs, but Shawnee appears to be the first of the Kansas City-area suburbs to consider Speed Watch.

Lenexa occasionally has volunteers use radar guns to record how many drivers speed, but no warnings or citations are mailed out.

The Shawnee City Council will consider the proposal Monday night. If it passes, Speed Watch could cost the city $5,000 to $10,000 annually.

Under the plan, the city would loan out up to eight radar guns at any time. Participants would undergo an hour-long training session. They would work in two-member teams, one to operate the radar gun, the other to record the speed, description and license plate number of vehicles.

Each team would be positioned in a parked car along a stretch of road chosen by participants. For a two-week period, working only during daylight hours, the team would record information on vehicles that exceed the posted limit by 10 mph.

Participants would be allowed to set up only in areas where the posted speed limit does not exceed 30 mph.

Participants would have to sign a waiver freeing Shawnee of liability if they were injured -- by an irate driver, for example -- during the program.

After the two weeks, a log of violators would be turned over to police, who would run the plate numbers and send warning letters to the vehicle owners. No tickets would be issued.

City officials said the program would not transfer law enforcement responsibilities to program participants.

"It's a way to keep the police from wasting their time," said City Councilwoman Tracy Thomas. "We're not going to have Barney Fife with one bullet in his pocket writing tickets to his neighbor."

"I've got a speedway in front of my house with all those people from out west trying to get to work," resident Argil Axford said. "I'm all for it."

Commenting has been disabled for this item.