Dayton’s new traffic weapon: A speed gun that can cite you with no stop

Lead-footed drivers in Dayton now have more to worry about than just mobile speed trailers and fixed traffic-enforcement cameras.

Dayton police also are using laser speed guns that snap photos, allowing officers to catch and cite motorists without having to conduct a traffic stop.

The locations of Dayton’s fixed traffic cameras have been highly publicized, and police expect to publicly announce where they will put the mobile units.

But the laser photo devices can be deployed almost anywhere, meaning motorists would be wise to obey the speed limits on roadways across the city, officials say.

“We want people to know that photo enforcement is back,” said Detective Jason Ward, of the Dayton Police Department’s crash reconstruction unit.

RELATED: Dayton traffic cameras issue 18k warnings, citations coming

Dayton police began using DragonEye Speed Lidar devices in October. Officers have used the lidar guns mainly on the highways, including Interstate 75 and U.S. 35.

Dayton police have been using lidar technology since the early 1990s.

But the department’s six new hand-held lidar guns for the first time allow police to take photos of speeding vehicles so officers don’t have to conduct a traffic stop to issue a citation.

That’s a benefit because it can be difficult and dangerous for police to try to catch up to speeding vehicles and conduct a traffic stop on busy roadways, Ward said.

“When an officer doesn’t have to pull out, it’s safer for the violator, safer for the officer, so we’re not stopping on I-75 in downtown in the middle of rush hour,” he said.

In October, police mailed out more than 1,200 warnings for vehicles caught speeding using hand-held lidar devices, according to police data.

This month, after the warning period ended, police have issued about 950 citations, which are sent to the registered owners of car or truck recorded speeding on camera.

The city’s fixed automated red light and speed cameras are being installed near or at five high-crash intersections, the locations of which have been heavily advertised.

RELATED: Here’s where the new traffic cameras are in Dayton

The mobile speed trailers likely will be moved around, but police expect to announce where they will be stationed, Ward said. The trailers are expected to be moved every couple of months or so — or possibly in even longer durations — depending on what impact they have on driving behaviors, officials said.

But the laser photo devices will be deployed in high-traffic areas or places that have been a source of citizen or officer complaints, Ward said. 

One limitation of the devices is that they cannot be used at night, since they do not have a flash, Ward said.

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