Citizen's Arrayest? Missouri suburb to allow citizens to run radar

By Charlie Morasch, Land Line contributing writer | 5/6/2013

Fans of TV’s Andy Griffith Show will remember an episode in which Gomer Pyle attempts to use his powers as a private citizen to arrest Deputy Barney Fife while shouting “Citizen’s Arrayest!”

Lee’s Summit, MO – a suburb of Kansas City off of Interstate 470 and U.S. 50 is launching a pilot program to allow private citizens the opportunity to help police discourage drivers from putting the pedal to the metal.

The Lee’s Summit Police Department recently sent an email to members of the community to encourage applicants for the Citizen Radar Pilot Program.

After passing a background check and free training, citizens can check out a police radar gun and monitor the speed of cars on city streets. The department said citizens can write the speed, time and a description of the vehicle with license plate on a log sheet. Police will later send a letter to the vehicle’s registered owner “advising them of the observed violation,” the email says.

Lee’s Summit Police Sgt. Chris DePue confirmed the program’s existence, and said it was being administered by the department’s traffic enforcement unit.

“The ultimate program goal is to reduce and prevent vehicle accidents, making Lee’s Summit a safer place to live and work,” the email says. “When volunteers run radar, they don’t issue tickets or appear in court and especially do not try to enforce the speed limits.

“Volunteers never present themselves as police officers.”

Citizen radar programs have been tried in cities that include Seattle, Youngstown, OH and Lubbock, TX. In Pennsylvania, one media outlet – the Patriot-News – is using a radar gun to monitor speeds in neighborhoods based on readers’ requests.

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