MOBILE RADAR: New Camera Technology

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Another Iowa law enforcement agency will soon be using mobile speed cameras. The Polk County Sheriff’s Office ordered the equipment several months ago. At no extra charge, the company supplying the cameras offered an upgrade. Not only will the cameras be able to catch and ticket speeders from various stationary positions, now new software will give deputies the ability to drive while getting the same pictures.

“It is for public safety. We defiantly want people to slow down in our high traffic, high volume of traffic high speed areas, so that`s going to be our number one goal,” said Sgt. Jana Abens with the Polk County Sheriff.

The cameras will attach to the dashboard of a vehicle and will be clearly marked as a Polk County vehicle. Department officials say they have yet to determine which areas will need the cameras, but plan to target high traffic areas, and those that tend to see accidents.

The two vehicles they ordered could arrive as soon as May. The department will park them the first month, before trying out the new technology. But those against the speed cameras are wondering: why use this new technology at all?

“Now just because a newer camera is available that can be mounted on a moving vehicle the sheriff wants to use those,” said Randall Wilson with the Iowa chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, “We are in danger of using technology just because we can without considering how its applied and how it affects our daily lives.”

Officials estimate that the cameras will bring in an extra $490,000 to the sheriff’s office in the first fiscal year. But they say not much else will change: deputies will still perform their usual traffic stops, even if a camera is placed within their route.