Porter County police are setting up a machine
that shows motorists
how fast they are going
Porter County Sheriff’s
Patrolman Bill Young, left, and Sgt. John Kuehl discuss how the county’s
new speed detector display can download driving data into a computer for
analysis. Police can then determine where in the county people are speeding
the most. (Michael Gard / The Times)
BY KEN KOSKY Times Staff
A man driving through the Heritage Valley
subdivision spotted a machine on the roadside that was measuring his speed and
displaying it in big, illuminated red numbers.
The man's speed dropped from 35 down to the speed limit of 30
once he saw the device Wednesday morning.
Porter County Sheriff's Department officer Bill Young, who
parked down the road from the machine for a half hour, said he didn't notice a
lot of speeding along the normally speeder-heavy road.
The machine was purchased by the Sheriff's Department in an
attempt to remind people of their speeds and get them to slow down. The machine
is on a trailer, and can be towed to various problem areas throughout the
county. Police are reminding motorists that where the machine is set up, an
officer may be parked nearby to see if people are getting the message.
"We're trying to remind people to please obey the speed limit,"
Porter County Sheriff Dave Reynolds said.
Reynolds used the same type of machine with success when he was
the Portage Police chief. A similar machine also is used by Valparaiso
Police. Wednesday was the second time the machine was placed in Heritage
Valley, a subdivision just south of Valparaiso. Reynolds said that one resident
who had called to complain about speeders called back to thank police for
parking the machine there.
"If I had the money, I'd buy two of them," Reynolds said.
"Since I've been here, one of the biggest complaints I've been
receiving is speeding... I think (the machine) makes a big difference."
Sgt. John Kuehl, who is in charge of moving the machine around,
will be putting it in school zones before and after school and will also put it
in areas known to have problems with speeding.
Kuehl said the machine also helps police because it keeps track
of the number of vehicles each hour and it keeps track of the speed of each
vehicle. Police can use that information to decide that they need to patrol for
speeders at a certain time each day.
"It proves or disproves if there is a problem," Kuehl
said. The machine cost $13,000, but Reynolds said that is less than
the cost of a manned squad car. And a lot of times, people who complain about
speeders don't see that a squad car has been on their road throughout the day,
but they do see the speed display machine.
"It's a tremendous asset for us," Reynolds said.
"People realize that when they call with a complaint, we're
doing something about it. That's important."