Monday, August 18, 2008

Citizens take action

This was a fun one to do.

St. Joseph News-Press

Armed with radar guns, several citizens in St. Joseph now have their sights set on speeders.
Citizens who are concerned with speeders in their area can do something about it with the help of Sgt. Bill McCammon of the St. Joseph Police Department.
Wednesday night, two St. Joseph residents did just that. Danielle Hunt and Jim Korell with the Central Neighborhood Watch Group spent just more than an hour in the back of a sport utility vehicle armed with a pen, paper and a Police Department-issued radar gun.

“We live on some pretty busy streets and there are a lot of kids running around,” Ms. Hunt said.
As they sat in the back of the SUV, aiming the radar gun out the back window, it suddenly became fun.
“Thirty-two, 34, 38,” Mr. Korell would say trying to guess the speed of the approaching vehicles as Ms. Hunt operated the radar gun.
Suddenly a zippy, sports car shot through the pack.
“Here we go, here we go,” the two shouted as they lunged forward to try to read the license plate.
“You want to catch them,” Mr. Korell said. “But a lot of the time people are slowing down, which is good. But you just wanna nail ‘em.”
Mr. Korell and Ms. Hunt both underwent a brief training session and a background check, required by the Police Department, before they were allowed to participate in the program.
Mr. McCammon said the pair are the third group to participate in the program so far. The Police Department sent 18 warning letters to speeders as a result of the first two groups’ efforts.
“We are not allowed to write tickets,” Ms. Hunt said. “We note the vehicle information and the speed they were going, if it is more than 10 miles over, and that gets turned into the Police Department.”
The Police Department then processes that information and distributes written warnings to speeders whose information added up. If a number was written incorrectly or the make or model were not a match, that speeder got lucky, Mr. McCammon said.
Ms. Hunt and Mr. Korell clocked three different vehicles all traveling 14 miles over the posted speed limit as well as five other offenders, including a pizza delivery car, all in less than an hour and a half.
Residents wishing to participate in the program can fill out a request form on the Police Department’s Web site or in person at the Law Enforcement Center. The Police Department has two radar guns available for citizen use.
“I felt like we accomplished something,” Mr. Korell said as they ended their watch.

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