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Washington County sheriff’s officers try new tactic against speeders

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Courtesy photo The Washington County Sheriff’s Office has purchased new computerized signs to place on roads to gauge whether speeding is an issue.

Courtesy photo
The Washington County Sheriff’s Office has purchased new computerized signs to place on roads to gauge whether speeding is an issue.

They look like road signs. But when you drive past them, you will see they have a message for you — how fast you are driving.

The Washington County Sheriff’s Office has purchased three portable, electronic radar signs that not only tell you how fast you are going, but report back to police on the speeds of those that pass by.

The signs do not take pictures of offending vehicles or otherwise try to document who was speeding, but the data on the number of drivers and their speeds can be accessed remotely by the Sheriff’s Office, if the sign is in an area with cellphone service.

Those numbers allow the Sheriff’s Office to determine whether resident complaints in a certain area are justified and speed enforcement is needed, county Undersheriff John Winchell said.

“If it looks like the complaints are accurate, we can follow up with officers for more enforcement,” he said. “It’s a great tool.”

The signs represent a technological improvement over big, bulky trailers that local sheriff’s offices have used in recent years.

In addition to being more portable and easier to put in place, they have batteries that last longer than those that power the trailers, Winchell said. And the trailer batteries cost nearly $700 apiece, he said.

The new signs cost about $3,000 each, and one of the three that was purchased can be customized to display traffic safety messages in addition to vehicle speed. They are small and light enough to attach to road signs.

One of the signs was put on county Route 52 in Greenwich in recent days because of complaints there, sheriff’s Sgt. Todd Lemery said.

He said the stretch south of Rabbit Road was chosen because of complaints that seem to stem from an increase in drivers using the county road to avoid paving work on state Route 40.

Signs were also put on county Route 41 in Kingsbury and Schuler Street in Fort Edward earlier this month, and have been taken down to analyze the data they collected, Lemery said.

The Sheriff’s Office posted a photo of one of the signs on its Facebook page this week to let residents know about them, and tips from the public about problematic roads poured in. Suggestions for targeting county Route 74, county Route 24, North Greenwich Road and Dean Road were made.

And if you are thinking about stealing one when you see it on a roadside, don’t. They are secured in place and can be tracked. With their value, theft of one of the signs would amount to felony grand larceny.


Courtesy:  Don Lehman

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