Illinois police say use of four-wheelers for speed traps not widespread

| 7/31/2006

If you see a broken-down vehicle parked alongside the Interstate in Illinois, it might not be a stranded motorist who’s sitting inside.

Land Line Magazine has received tips that State Police officers are using unmarked four-wheelers with their flashers on to target speeders. By sitting in the inconspicuous vehicles, the officers are able to use speed radar guns without being noticed.

However, Rick Hector, a spokesman for the Illinois State Police, told Land Line Magazine that while there may be individual districts within the state using stranded vehicles as cover, it’s not being used as a statewide practice.

If the State Police are using the cars as cover, it wouldn’t be the first unique traffic-wrangling technique they’ve tried. In July 2005, District 15 of the State Police and the Illinois Tollway launched “Operation Hard Hat,” an aggressive ticketing campaign that uses undercover police officers, zero tolerance and pricey citations to help catch speeders in work zones.

In the program, State Police officers shed their uniforms and weapons for hard hats, orange vests and a LIDAR – light detection and ranging – gun, which works much like a radar gun, but can more accurately pinpoint individual vehicles, according to a press release.

“The Illinois Tollway is making every effort to slow down traffic in all work zones,” said Executive Director Jack Hartman in a press release. “The innovative tools we’re deploying to enforce work zone speed limits demonstrate our determination to protect roadway workers, as well as our customers.”

– By Aaron Ladage, staff writer