|The sheriff’s office plans to equip all marked patrol cars with units|
Staff Photo by K.A. Wagoner:
The Franklin County Sheriff’s Office will begin using radar on July 16. All marked patrol cars, like the one above, will eventually be equipped for speed enforcement.
Friday, July 6, 2012
By K.A. WAGONER - Staff Writer
For the first time in the history of the Franklin County Sheriff's Office, deputies will begin using radar for speed enforcement on Monday, July 16.
"We have never run radar before," said Capt. Harry Clingenpeel. "Our primary responsibility has always been to respond and investigate criminal activity."
"That will still be our primary function, but we also want to keep our streets and roads safe," he added.
The sheriff's office has secured a grant from the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to purchase four Raptor radar units to equip four marked patrol vehicles, Clingenpeel said.
The sheriff's office will apply for another DMV grant in October to purchase more units, he added. The price for individual units ranges from $1,400 to $3,000, depending on the type of unit and whether it is stationary or hand held.
"Our goal is to equip all marked patrol units with radar," Clingenpeel said. "It may take a few years as funds become available."
Speed enforcement in the county has been the duty of the Virginia State Police, and the decision by the sheriff's office to use radar is not a reflection on the state police, Clingenpeel said.
"The Virginia State Police do an outstanding job," he said. "But they do not have as much manpower to patrol the roads as they would like."
While the state police will continue to patrol U.S. 220, the sheriff's office will concentrate on secondary roadways in the county, Clingenpeel said.
"We receive so many complaints from neighborhoods around the county of speeding violations," he said.
Statistics on traffic crashes and fatalities in the county weighed heavily in the decision to begin using radar, Clingenpeel said.
"Seven persons were killed in Franklin County from Jan. 1 to May 31 this year," he said. "Speed was a factor in many of those crashes."
In 2011, 11 people were killed and 528 people were injured in traffic crashes in Franklin County, Clingenpeel said. There were 908 crashes reported.
"The sheriff's office will be vigilant in ensuring the homes and roads in Franklin County are safe," said Sheriff Bill Overton.