THE RADAR COALITION
A "Coalition to Eliminate the Prohibition Against Municipal Police Using Radar" was formed among the major law enforcement and municipal associations affected by this legislative prohibition on January 12, 2013. The associations now participating in this coalition are: the Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police Association, the Fraternal Order of Police Pennsylvania State Lodge, the Pennsylvania District Attorneys Association, the Pennsylvania Municipal League, the Pennsylvania State Association of Boroughs, the Pennsylvania Association of Township Commissioners, the Pennsylvania State Association of Township Supervisors and the
Pennsylvania State Mayors' Association.
The focus of the Coalition is to change one sentence in Section 3368 (c),(2) of the
Motor Vehicle Code. That sentence currently reads:
[E]lectronic devices such as radio-microwave devices (commonly referred to
as electronic speed meters or radar) may be used only by members of the
Pennsylvania State Police.
For reasons which follow, Section 3368 (c),(2) should read:
[E]lectronic devices such as radio-microwave devices (commonly referred to as
electronic speed meters or radar) may be used by any police officer.
The reasons for making this change are many and include these eleven:
Pennsylvania is the only state in the United States of
America that does not allow its municipal police to use radar.
Click here to read the Memorandum of Rick
Koch, the PSMA's legal intern on the "The Use of RADAR by Pennsylvania Municipal
Police Officers." His research proves without a doubt that Pennsylvania is the only state in the United States of America that does not allow its municipal police to use radar.
The maximum speed limits in over two-thirds of all of the
municipalities in Pennsylvania are presently being enforced using radar because
those municipalities are patrolled by the Pennsylvania State Police.
To be more specific, the Pennsylvania State Police enforce the maximum speed laws in 1,714 of the 2,562
municipalities of Pennsylvania. Click HERE to see a map of Pennsylvania showing the broad coverages of the Pennsylvania State Police.
Because Pennsylvania law allows motorists to travel faster in municipalities
where radar is prohibited from being used and because the curvatures and
slopes of roadways limit the locations where speed can be enforced by means
other than radar, there is an unequal enforcement of the maximum speed laws in
Unequal enforcement of the maximum speed laws is in direct
conflict with the spirit, if not the letter, of Section 103 of the "Motor Vehicle Code"
entitled "Uniformity of Interpretation." It reads: "This title shall be so interpreted and
construed as to effectuate its general purpose to make uniform the law throughout this
Commonwealth and all political subdivisions."
is acknowledged by law enforcement personnel to be the safest, most accurate,
and most economical speed-timing device.
The notion that municipalities
will use radar to raise revenue is an unfounded concern that has little basis in
Among other reasons, the cost
of enforcing the maximum speed limits is high relative to the revenue received by the
municipality from the issuance of a citation.
Prohibiting municipal police officers from using a radar
gun when those same officers are permitted to use a 40 caliber Glock or a taser
is illogical and absurd.
For most mayors, the number of
times that residents have demanded enforcement of maximum speed laws far
outnumbers the complaints, if any, that traffic enforcement has been too
In support of this proposition, when
the business community of Shamokin Dam Borough in Snyder County was asked to
rate the importance of various proposals for improving their community, the highest
rated proposal was "aggressive enforcement of the traffic laws on Routes 11 & 15."
Click here to read to the "Media Release from Shamokin Dam Borough" and here to peruse the "Economic Development Survey of Shamokin Dam Borough - August/
The multiple restrictions in the Motor Vehicle Code on the
use of radar as a speed-timing device would be applicable to municipal police in
the same way that they currently apply to the Pennsylvania State Police.
For instance, "no person
may be convicted upon evidence obtained through the use of [radar] unless the speed
recorded is six or more miles per hour in excess of the legal speed limit." Click here to
read all of the restrictions applicable to the Pennsylvania State Police when they use
radar to enforce Pennsylvania's maximum speed laws.
9. The General Assembly of Pennsylvania enacted Subchapter F of the Motor Vehicle
Code entitled "Speed Restrictions" which includes Section 3362 entitled "Maximum
Speed Limits" to protect the public from the dangers of speeding, as a matter of
legislate that municipal police are restricted in their enforcement of these
public safety laws when the State Police, who are enforcing the exact same laws,
are not so restricted is an indefensible contradiction in public policy.
Public safety should not be compromised in the absence of a compelling
reason. The type of uniform a police officer is wearing is not such a reason. Click here to read Section 3362 of the "Motor Vehicle Code" in its entirety.
10. Over the years, Traffic Safety Facts published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) on Speeding strongly suggest that Pennsylvania has the worst record in the United State of America for speeding-related fatalities and that Pennsylvania's public policy which hinders and prevents municipal police from enforcing the maximum speed laws is the cause. Click here to read the NHTSA's Traffic Safety Facts published in July 2017 based upon 2015 data. In 2015, Pennsylvania had the 4th highest number of speeding-related fatalities; the 2nd highest percentage of speeding-related fatalities to total fatalities in the nation; and the 2nd highest number of speeding fatalities on local roadways. There were three states which were on the top ten lists of all three statistical measures of speeding-related fatalities for 2015. Pennsylvania was not only one of those states, it lead all three states in two of these three statistical measures. Furthermore, the numbers of speeding-related fatalities on roadways where municipal police often enforce the maximum speed laws, but are prohibited from using radar, were on average 5 times higher than the number of speeding-related fatalities on roadways where the State Police primarily enforce the same maximum speed laws, but are allowed to use radar. It is a fact that in order for Pennsylvania to bring its percentage of speeding fatalities to total fatalities under the national average for one year, 293 fewer speeding-related fatalities would need to be prevented. Click here for more details. Pennsylvanians simply cannot live with a public policy that results in high numbers of traffic fatalities and unspecified physical injuries and property damage.