Archive for Sunday, July 10, 2005

Speeding ticket case bounces radar reading back at police

Appeal focuses on officer training, environmental interference

July 10, 2005


Douglas County District Court rarely is tied up with people battling speeding tickets.

Many people will pay the fine and not even make a courtroom appearance. And most don't appeal municipal court rulings on speeding tickets to the district court.

"It maybe happens once every two years," said Jerry Little, assistant prosecutor for the city of Lawrence.

But Lawrence resident Zamir Bavel has turned a $45 speeding ticket issued to him in March 2004 into an all-out battle.

After a Lawrence Municipal Court judge ruled against him in the fall, Bavel, a computer science professor at Kansas University, appealed to the Douglas County District Court. His trial, which began in April, will continue at 10 a.m. Monday before District Judge Robert Fairchild.

"This is not about money," said Bavel, who has spent about $1,000 on his court case. "I want the police department to reform. They claim there is no mandatory training standard for radar operators and as a result they let officers go and issue citations. I don't agree with this."

Research and training

Bavel argues that officers on the Lawrence Police force don't receive enough training to operate radar guns. Therefore, they shouldn't be allowed to issue speeding tickets.

Zamir Bavel is fighting a speeding ticket he received in March 2004. He has spent about $1,000 on fighting the $45 ticket. Bavel wants the police department to have mandatory training on radar guns for officers before they are allowed to issue citations. He also claims that there could have been interference with a radar gun resulting in an incorrect reading.

Zamir Bavel is fighting a speeding ticket he received in March 2004. He has spent about $1,000 on fighting the $45 ticket. Bavel wants the police department to have mandatory training on radar guns for officers before they are allowed to issue citations. He also claims that there could have been interference with a radar gun resulting in an incorrect reading.

According to a partial transcript from an April 18 hearing, the police officer who pulled over Bavel has been with the Lawrence Police Department since 2001 and previously served as an officer for the Larned Police Department for five years. The officer received on-the-job training to use radar guns at both departments. He took no classes and had no special coursework.

"It was said in court that there was no real training," Bavel said. "I find it unimaginable that this can happen."

The Topeka Police Department requires 16 hours of training in the classroom, eight hours of field training and written tests to be certified to use a radar gun. Wichita and Kansas City, Kan., police departments have similar standards.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has standards for training officers to use radar guns, Bavel said. The agency, which is responsible for setting safety standards and verifying compliance by automobile manufacturers, requires that officers have 24 hours of training in the classroom, 16 hours of field training and take a written test to become certified to handle a radar gun, he said.

That may be true, Little said. But there's no requirement in the law that states the police department has to follow the NHTSA's program, he said.

"The only law in Kansas is that the officers have to have sufficient training and experience," Little said. "That's up for the judge to decide. And in the case of this officer, I think he has had sufficient training."

Lawrence Police Sgt. Dan Ward said he and other officials with the department couldn't comment on training practices because of the litigation.

Bavel said that through his research he found that overhead power lines, power generating stations and substations can interfere with radar gun readings.

"There's a substation near where I was pulled over," he said.

In a radar information manual issued by the National Motorists Association Foundation, it states that interference from power-generating stations may cause false readings, but usually only decreases radar range.

Little said he doesn't think the substation or overhead power lines affected the reading.

Little said most of the time the city tries to work out a deal in these situations. But Bavel wasn't interested.

"He wanted his day in court," Little said. "So, we're accommodating him."

Not a speeder

Bavel insists he wasn't speeding when he was pulled over near Ousdahl and 19th streets.

"I know I was not speeding," he said. "I am the odd, rare bird who regards the law as, not quite but pretty close to, sacred. I don't break the law because I am afraid of getting caught but because I believe it's wrong to break the law."

Bavel even took a polygraph test to prove he wasn't lying about his claim. He said he passed the polygraph test.

"But it can't be used in court," he said.

If Bavel isn't successful, he has the opportunity again to appeal the judge's decision. He said he would take this matter to the Kansas Supreme Court if need be.

But if he is successful, Bavel will be found innocent of speeding and won't have to pay his fine. But that wouldn't leave him feeling vindicated, he said.

"This is a matter of principle," Bavel said. "I am more interested in reforming the police department than being found not guilty. I am dead-set on making this matter known to people."

The city also could appeal the decision if Bavel is found innocent, Little said.


pierced_daisy 12 years, 11 months ago

Being as our police officers are some of the highest paid police officers in the state, you would think that the city would be willing to drop some of those dollars into an official training program for the simple use of a tool that the police officers use on nearly a day to day basis. I had no idea that they had only on the job training to use such a tool. Being as other police officers employed in the state have strict mandated training im appalled that Lawrence does not; especially given its student population and the notorious reputation that the majority of its residents speed. However, maybe they see this and realize that since the majority of the residents speed, that as long as they can figure out a car is going a bit too fast that they can farce the reading that they have gotten from a piece of equipment that they barely know how to use. My jaw drops at such an outrage.

Richard Heckler 12 years, 11 months ago

I request that the city commissioners, as a matter of continuity and safety, set a 25MPH neighborhood speed limit ASAP. This speed limit has been observed in many Kansas City metro area neighborhoods. The time has come.

I also suggest using red paint for the lettering and numbers as red is a eye catching color. Keeping tree limbs cut back is not a bad idea either. Also Lawrence could be a bit more generous on sign placement. After all KU brings thousands of new drivers to Lawrence each year.

Baille 12 years, 11 months ago

A friend of mine challenged a speeding ticket in Lawrence and won. The officer could not show that the radar gun had been properly calibrated according to the manufacturing specifications. Apparently for the guns to be accurate they need to regularly maintained and calibrated. Maybe with a little more training, the radar gun the officer used would have been calibrated correctly and my friend would not have been pulled over.

By the way, for those who want to challenge erroneous LPD speeding tickets, each gun comes with a manual, which can be very helpful.

pity2bu 12 years, 11 months ago

Poor man got a ticket because he was guilty of speeding like we all do here in Lawrence. This guy just has money to throw around because the university hires and pays these people to much money, pay the real people teaching classes such as the grad students. Oh by the way anyone can pass a polygraph if you're the person paying for it. It should be noted that speed causes accidents and I cannot drive anywhere in this city without seeing at least accidents. I think the city needs to raise the fines and court cost to make a statement. I am all for it, because the same people will be paying for another citation. I don't care how much training these officers get, if its pointed at you and you're speeding, radar this, THEY GOTCHA!!!!!! You people belly ache over anything if it will serve your purpose. Violate the Law and accept your guilt or move the hell away.

cornflakegirl 12 years, 11 months ago

Once again, Smitty, your paranoia and loathing for the LPD and the outside world has kept you from making sense, or even checking your facts. LPD sends their officers to the state training school in Hutch - they have for at least a couple of years.

pylon25 12 years, 11 months ago

It's rediculous to allow an untrained officer to operate a radar gun and issue citations. Given the fact that the NHTSA recommends x amount of training, it should be a reasonable assumption that proper operation of the gun is somewhat complex and a simple on the job training of "Point at them and read the number" should not be sufficient. Whether he was speeding or not isnt really the issue here, its untrained officers handing out citations, which most people would never contest. I think it's great that this gentleman took on the system, as it is in desperate need of change if whats accused is truely the case.

And to whoever bitched about the University paying people too much, are you serious? Most of the people that are in those positions have worked very hard to get where they are, and work very hard for what they earn. Don't knock someone just because they make more money than you. As a disclaimer, i dont work for the University, i just hate it when people complain about others and their level of compensation.

delta77 12 years, 11 months ago

While I agree that smitty's manic rants do a disservice to the public, in fact he is correct that Lawrence now has its own training program and no longers sends officers to the state program. This may be new for this year.

Also, "it should be noted" that speed does not cause accidents. This is a common misconception made more prevalent by misinformation from the police, especially the less-educated officers. But don't take my word for it - the Kansas Department of Transportation clears up many of the myths about speed limits in their report:

skooter 12 years, 11 months ago

It doesn't surprise me that the police officer might have had issues with his radar gun, and was also untrained. I personally know several lawrence police officers and overall I think the department is very dirty. They would be in uniform on the clock, and would stop by my apartment to party with my old roommates. They would get calls to go somewhere for an emergency and they wouldn't leave, or they would pretend as if they never received the call. Sometimes they would radio back and say they were busy with another situation, when really they just wanted to continue having sex with my roommates on the clock. If the Lawrence police department were examined closer the public would see that some should never be on the streets nor should they be the people we call for help.

jayhawks71 12 years, 11 months ago

More people should contest their tickets. They are revenue enhancement plain and simple. It is an abomination to the city and the PD if their officers are not trained to use their "weapons."

People like pity2bu are the ones that walk through life with blinders on just letting the government, our servants, tell them what to do.

jayhawks71 12 years, 11 months ago

skooter, why don't you go on record as to who these officers are, when this happen(ed), etc. I am calling you out. Very easy to simply lob comments out there. Give some evidence and get these bums off the force, IF they exist.

doc1 12 years, 11 months ago

Skooter. The allegations you make are ridiculous. It's so preposterous and juvenile. You're either making it up or exaggerating. Its people like you that plant seeds of untruth and unfounded theories about the local Law Enforcement in the weak minded people who believe the hyped up junk you preach.

Also, as usual the JW has not done their homework. EVERY Officer on the PD has gone through training with radar guns. Every one of them has a certification certificate. (I have observed them myself).

Harry_Manback 12 years, 11 months ago

I actually will give skooter some credit on their claims. We had someone break into my old apartment, and a cop sort of befriended my roommate during the experience. For the next few months he would periodically stop by to "check on us," when in reality he just wanted to spend 10 minutes flirting with my roommate.

blueblood 12 years, 11 months ago

Yeah more training to use a radar gun, b/c it's so difficult. you calibrate it, point it at a car, and if there's more than one car in a group, the one passing everyone else is probably the speeder. But hey, let's waste more time and money for unnecessary training. Come to think of it, i bet the officers don't have certificates showing they completed 40 hours of training on how to watch for people not stopping at stop signs, or running red lights. everyone better contest those tickets too. or just grow up and stop whining and blaming everyone else for your mistakes

cardpotato 12 years, 11 months ago

i received an $84 ticket for doing 12 over (radar) yet it is now illegal to turn left from 23rd onto northbound ohio or indiana between 4 and 6 because the law against blocking an intersection is not enforced...Let me give the traffic tickets for blocking intersections and I will fund public education. You wanna hear what i think of cell phones in traffic and in the public library too?

pylon25 12 years, 11 months ago

blueblood, when a person is entrusted with the ability to cite or arrest individuals, bringing them to court and causing them to incur possible fines and costs, I think that its reasonable to demand that they be properly and thoroughly trained. To accept any less would be detrimental to the effective enforcement of the laws. With that said, i speed, when i get caught speeding, i realize my mistake and move on. I used to just blindly pay the fine, but now knowing what i know, i would definitely contest the ticket in order to be sure that the officer is trained, the gun is calibrated and maintained to the manufacturers specs, etc. My breaking of the law does not overshadow a problem on their end. To enforce the law using a untrained officer and a poorly maintened radar gun is unjust, no matter what the crime. I have a duty to obey the laws, they have a duty to properly enforce them. This is why search warrants and things of that nature are required, to ensure that law enforecment holds up their end of the bargain. What kansas really needs is a left lane law. All of the people on K10 and I70 doing the speed limit or less in the left lane should be ticketed. When a car approaches at an obviously faster speed behind you, move over. The left lane is for passing.

doc1 12 years, 11 months ago

Pylon25: You are absolutely right. If these Officers weren't trained you and everyone else should fight the ticket. However, everyone here is posting based on false, or lack of information given by the LJW. These Officers are trained. Every one of them that goes to court and testifies brings their certification and can explained to you the difference between electromagnetic wave diffusion, Doppler shift, Echo and what causes echo, oscillating current, etc. Its just crazy. This is THE highest trained Police Deptartment in Kansas. Its ignorant to believe that these Officer's are not trained. Its another example of LJW giving information leading people to believe their local Law Enforcement is sub-par.

my2cents 12 years, 11 months ago

I know this is a article about LPD, but what about the other jurisdictions in Douglas County? Douglas County Sheriff, Eudora PD, Baldwin PD and KuPD? Do all these departments carry a "certification" to operated a radar. An area survey is needed.

Baille 12 years, 11 months ago

I don't understand the "reading between the lines" comment. Please explain.

NotGuilty 12 years, 11 months ago

Doc1, you are dead wrong. The Lawrence Police Department does have a training course for radar operators, but no officer is obliged to take it. They do NOT certify their radar operators. The officer in question testified in District Court that he had had zero minutes training in the classroom, two (2) minutes training in the field, passed no examination, and was not certified as a radar operator. If he is the only one, it would be quite a coincident.

jayhawks71 12 years, 11 months ago

Blueblood, why don't you explain how radar works in all its intricacy. Tell us what false echoes are. Explain to us what various interference sources can alter a signal. Everyone's a genius when they don't know any better.

jayhawks71 12 years, 11 months ago

Pylon, while I agree that people should not be driving in the left lane, when one is going 80 or 85 to "pass" then "too bad" if I am in the left lane going 70-75 to pass someone going 65 in a 70.

I have been on K10 enough times going 5-7 over, and passing one, two, or three cars in the right lane when some wiseguy comes up going 85 and expects me to cut out of the lane in between two cars while I AM STILL PASSING people, so he/she (and I've seen both with regularity) can go by at 85. Sorry... too bad. I get out of the lane once I am done passing.

pity2bu 12 years, 11 months ago

With all the comments posted above, sounds to me like all of you need to apply for the Lawrence Police Dept. That way each of you can change the procedures, or maybe apply for the Police Chief's position and show us civilians how a real police department is run!!! I'll leave the law to the Officers who enforce.

When everyone figures out how a radar gun operates please let me know, or maybe we all can make a conference call to the service technician of the companies that proivde them and get the real scoop.

Oh, by the way quit reading between the lines of the KS DOT, speed results in 1/3 of all traffic accidents that's a known and published fact that's not a mis-conception.

This city bends over backwards for its citizens, like it or leave it, there is no other choice.

Baille 12 years, 11 months ago

What "reading between the lines?"

The KDOT link clearly states "Contrary to popular belief, speed in itself is not a major cause of accidents. In fact accidents appear to depend less on absolute speed and more on the variations of speeds in the traffic stream."

pity2bu 12 years, 11 months ago

Still reading between the lines, you're not going to win.

absolute speed and or speed variations

davehahn 12 years, 11 months ago

Here's a couple questions that have been bothering me for a while. 1) Why is the LPD allowed to sit across from NCS on K10 - isn't that outside the city limits and therefore outside of their jurisdiction. My understanding is that they are able to pursue you out of city limits, but not allowed to run radar outside city limits. If that is within city limits, how come the city limits sign isn't until about a mile west of that spot? 2) We all have to follow speed limits, using the speedometers in our cars. I have driven many vehicles in which the speedometer is way out of calibration - But after tons of searching, can find absolutely no place to have a speedometer calibrated. So we're all expected to be judged by something nobody can be certain is reading accurately. Any thoughts?

my2cents 12 years, 11 months ago

There are two types of radar out there that I know of, that is dopplar and lazer (LIDAR). To what I have read an officer doesn't need to know how to calibrate or know how the internal fuctions of the system works. They just have to know how to setup, test calibration, and run the external features on them. I believe there was a multiple State Court rulings on that, I do know the radar has passed what is known as the FRYE test.

So davehahn if the officer knows how to setup, test, and run the radar, how isn't it accurate. If it is good enough for a State Supreme Court and FRYE test, I think some thought was given into the radar.

If a radar is given an inaccurate reading then MOST of them have sensor to tell the operator.

And the officer in question above has 9 years law experience. I think he qualifies.

Sidenote: How does the city justify spending thousands of dollars on a $45 speeding ticket to dealing thier policy, but dropped charges on a $100 smoking ticketing dealing with the State Constitution?

davehahn 12 years, 11 months ago

my2cents - I don't doubt that their radar gun is accurate. I want to know where I can get my speedometer calibrated so that I can be certain that my car is reporting accurately to me.

Baille 12 years, 11 months ago

If you challenge the ticket, the officer has to bring in (or the city has to offer) evidence that the radar gun used that done was properly calibrated and had been routinely maintained. If they don't, you can move for judgment as a matter of law. Friend of mine did it about a month ago because he believed the radar gun was inaccurate. He won. In Lawrence.

As for the calibratio nof your speedometer, I don't know. I thiink Gregg Tire did it for me several years ago when I put larger off-raod tires on the Jeep I owned at the time, but I can't swear to it. They would be a good place to start

Andrew Mathews 3 years, 11 months ago

Im dealing with this very same thing right now in salina and the officer is even lying in court and when i prove the truth the judge twists it and drops key details and evedince in his favor my constitutional rights have been violated in municipal and district court now so im working on taking this to state wair my right will hopfuly not be spat apon

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