Radar Use by Cops in PA – Money Mills vs. Traffic Safety.

Written by Gregory Monte.

“Pennsylvania is the only state in the country which doesn’t allow its municipal police officers to use radar guns.”

That is how Adam Herman of the Philly Voice started out his article dated March 14, 2019.

Proposed Pa. Senate bill would (finally) allow municipal police to use radar guns

He then notes that this is all set to change because, Pennsylvania State Senator Steve Santarsiero introduced Bill 406 on March 13 to change this long-standing practice.

In this blog post, I am not going to lay out all of the pros and cons of allowing cops to use radar.  If you are looking for this approach to the issue, just do a quick Google search and you will find it.

Instead, I am going to point out that the legislators back in 1961 knew what was really at stake when it came to allowing local police to have an easy way to enforce speed limits.

Spoiler Alert: It wasn’t traffic safety.

Consider this interesting quote from the opinion rendered in Commonwealth v. Herdman (Pa: Court of Common Pleas 1981):

“The legislative history of both April 23, 1961, P.L. 108, sec. 2, 75 P.S. §1002 (d.1)(1)(iii), adding the exclusive use of radar by state police to the 1959 Vehicle Code, and 75 Pa.C.S.A. §3368, is replete with debate over the concern that municipalities would abuse enforcement technology as money mills and convert the underlying purpose of the Code from traffic safety to a revenue scheme.”

There was a good reason why local cops were historically not permitted to use radar in Pennsylvania. 

That reason is still valid today.

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