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Police Put Brakes on Speeders

By Ryan McMaster/Staff Writer | Feb. 23, 2007

Police are using some new equipment to help slow down speeders and catch drunk drivers.

The equipment, purchased with the help of a state grant, includes a mobile speed/radar trailer that already is being moved to schools and other potentially dangerous spots around town. Tuesday it was on North A Street; Wednesday it was in the 600 block of North V Street.

"It's education for the people," said Traffic Supervisor Sgt. Ed Lardner. "Sometimes they think they are going slower than they actually are."

The trailer flashes to make approaching motorists aware of their speed and that the speed limit is 35 mph.

He said it was moved to North V after a complaint by a school crossing guard.

"The crossing guard was complaining about people coming up to the stop sign and speeding (through) it," Lardner said. "The trailer is a reminder to people to slow down."

The trailer and a Pro-Lite Plus, a device that is help by a police officer like a pair of binoculars to track the speed of oncoming vehicles, were bought with the help of a $130,000 grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety. The Pro-Lite Plus, manufactured by Kustom Signals Inc., Lenexa, Kan., uses a laser that tracks speed and distance.

"The officer goes to the violator and issues the ticket," Lardner said. A digital readout identifies the vehicle speed. "The officer has the option of saying ‘This is what your speed was.'"

It can also be used in traffic collisions. For instance, the device is capable of determining how far a vehicle has skidded in an accident. It is solar-powered, and the batteries are charged with solar power every four to five weeks.

"It hangs around the neck," Lardner said. "It weighs 17 ounces and takes two AA batteries. It's allowed in the courts; as scientific technology, it's allowed."

He added that the Pro-Lite Plus model cost about $3,000 and that the trailer cost about $10,000. The balance of the grant money will be used for other police activities, such as stake-outs, he said.

Lardner said police must complete three DUI checkpoints by Sept. 30 to comply with the terms of the grant. Lardner said the first one will likely be sometime in March.

Lompoc police currently are helping the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department with DUI checkpoints. "We have officers helping out right now in Santa Barbara," he said. When more officers are available locally, the local checkpoints will begin.

Lardner also mentioned other anti-speeding and DUI tactics that the department will be using this year, including saturation patrols that will look for DUI drivers, stakeouts for those with licenses suspended for DUI driving, warrant services for those not complying with probation and a court sting for offenders who attempt to drive away from court after their drivers licenses are suspended.

"We will also have two videos and still cameras for motorcycle officers," he added. "This will be to videotape DUI investigations. We will have educational materials to hand out at DUI checkpoints, advising people not to drink and drive."

Lardner said the number of speeding and DUI offenders may actually rise this year, since efforts are being made to catch more of them. He said the goals of the program are to reduce traffic accidents with or without injuries or deaths, reduce DUI driving and to educate the public about DUI driving and aggressive driving.

"When we put more people on the road, we have more arrests, so the statistics may be higher than they previously were," he said.

Article courtesy of

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