New tools to nab speeders

A police officer uses a handhelp LIDAR unit, which can gaude the speed and distance of a moving vehicle in seconds, even though moving traffic and obstacles such as trees and signs.

MICHIGAN CITY – Drivers should be extra careful about speeding in Michigan CIty after local police received some new tools to help keep the streets safe.

The Indiana Criminal Justice Institute has distributed 1,000 new RADAR and LIDAR speed measurement devices among 162 state and local police agencies, according to Sgt. Ken Havlin, grant coordinator for the Michigan City Police Department.

The units are being purchased with $1.6 million in National Highway Traffic Safety Administration funds, and the MCPD is one of the recipients of the new devices.

"Dash-mounted RADAR systems may be used while patrol vehicles are moving or stopped, and can measure traffic speeds in the same and opposing directions," Havlin said.

"Hand-held LIDAR devices help officers spot speeding drivers even through several lanes of traffic, or obstructions such as trees and bushes."

The lidar unit clocks the time it takes a burst of infrared light (laser) to reach a car, bounce off and return to its starting point. By multiplying this time by the speed of light, it determines how far away the object is, according to Police One, an online resource site for law enforcement.

And it sends out many hundreds of infrared laser bursts per second to collect multiple distances, and, by comparing the different distance samples, the system can calculate how fast a vehicle is moving.

MCPD received six of the new moving radar units, and one LIDAR unit from the from the ICJI "to help in our enforcement efforts," he said.

Police Chief Mark Swistek said he was "happy the department got the needed moving radar units will update resources already in use."

"These moving radar units will be utilized by MCPD officers to help detect speeders and aggressive drivers in Michigan City," Assistant Chief Kevin Urbanczyk said.

The new enforcement toiols will be rolled out in August when local police join officers statewide in a united effort that will target seat belt violations and aggressive driving, Swistek said.

MCPD will have extra patrols beginning Friday, Aug. 9, and continuing through Labor Day, Sept. 2, part of the statewide Blitz 99 ”Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” enforcement campaign.

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