Vol. 80, No. 4News notes

A male RCMP officer attaches grey, toaster-size box, to utility pole on side of road.

New radar identifies speed hot spots

S/Sgt. Mark McCutcheon installs a semi-permanent radar device in Coquitlam, B.C., to help identify the city's speeding hot spots. Credit: Heather Escaravage, Coquitlam detachment


In March, RCMP in Coquitlam, B.C. began using a new stationary semi-permanent radar device to help identify the city's speeding hot spots and improve how officers use their time.

The device gets mounted to a utility pole or light post to record the frequency, speed and size of vehicles passing in both directions. After a short time, the device is moved to collect data in a different location. Only speed data is collected — the device isn't equipped with a camera.

The move comes after an increase in public complaints about speeding in two Vancouver suburbs.

"Now the enforcement teams can spend more time doing enforcement," says the detachment's traffic services commander, S/Sgt. Mark McCutcheon.

Before the device, which cost $3,500, officers at the detachment investigated complaints by parking for up to an hour and monitoring speeds using a hand-held radar unit.

"It saves us having to send an officer to monitor the situation when they could be at another location that has already been identified as a problem," he says.

Since getting the device, McCutcheon says he has used it to investigate complaints on about six different streets. Only one was found to have a speeding issue.

"The public pays our salary through their taxes, so I want to be responsible to ensure the city is getting the best bang for their buck," says McCutcheon. "This tool helps us do that."

When set up, the battery-operated device — about the size of a toaster — is locked inside an impact-resistant, watertight, tamper-proof case. McCutcheon says he removes the box after one week, uploads the encrypted data to his laptop and recharges the device before setting it up again on a different street.

McCutcheon uses the accompanying software, which cost an extra $1,600, to run a variety of reports as needed. A report indicates if or when people are speeding, and the officer is able to determine the best time for enforcement, or if it's needed at all.

Approximately 50 of the devices are used by RCMP detachments in Manitoba, Alberta, and now British Columbia, says Jim Sheehan, Director of Sales, Research and Development at North Line, which distributes the devices in Canada. Other than Coquitlam detachment, the others use the radar on a more permanent basis — using solar power to extend battery life up to eight weeks.

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