Electronic speed detectors approved for I-10 in Welsh

By By Doris Maricle / American Press

WELSH ­­­— The town council voted 4-1 Tuesday to give Police Chief Marcus Crochet the go-ahead to implement a photo speed

enforcement program to target speeders on a section of Interstate 10.

Crochet hopes to begin using the new electronic speed detectors by January.

“I think it will help the traffic on I-10 to slow down, and we won’t have as many accidents out there,” he said. “It will

make travel safer on the three-mile stretch of I-10 we have.”

Officers will use a hand-held light detection and ranging radar gun equipped with a camera. The camera will take pictures

of the vehicle and its license plate, as well as document the speed and coordinates of the vehicle.

“The officers will physically hold and point the radar at the vehicle,” Crochet said. “It will not be a pole-mounted camera

or on a box on a trailer.”

Violators will receive a citation in the mail.

“The camera puts your vehicle here, and each citation sent has a photo of the vehicle and it is entered as evidence,” Crochet

said.

All officers will be trained and certified to use the system to target vehicles and can be subpoenaed to testify in court,

he said.

“We don’t have to put officers chasing cars (to personally issue a citation) or pay for fuel with the system,” Crochet said.

The off-duty officers will operate the radar for extra pay during their off time based on four- to 12-hour shifts similar

to the Traffic Enforcement Detail program.

“The officers will never be monitoring traffic on I-10 while on patrol, unless they are called out for a specific reason,”

Crochet said. “Our city streets come first.”

Concerned resident Thomas Hotard said the photo radar is a way of stopping people for the purpose of raising revenue, not

safety.

“It’s a way of stealing money from other people who are trying to get from point A to point B,” Hotard said. “We’re doing

it to make money off people as opposed to doing it for safety issues.”

Crystal Crochet, wife of the police chief, defended the program, saying the radars are a way of making money to fund police

officers and buy equipment.

Under a contract approved by the town, Blue Line Solutions will provide the equipment to the town at no cost. It has also

agreed to pay the $25-per-hour rate for officers using the radar.

The company will receive 50 percent of the fines collected from each citation with the other half going to the town’s general

fund.

The only cost to the town will be a $3,500 fee paid to the state Department of Transportation and Development to inspect and

certify the section of I-10 to be manned by the new radars.

Alderman Bob Owens, who voted against the program, said now is not the time to begin a program that doesn’t earn the town

100 percent of the funds when the town is facing financial problems.

“It’s the wrong time to do it,” Owens said. “We have a shortfall, and we need every dollar. We don’t need to be giving half

of it away.”

Westlake and Jennings are considering similar programs, Crochet said.