New York State investing more than $343,000 to provide 235 police departments, sheriffs’ offices with new radar units
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced New York State is providing 235 police departments and sheriffs’ offices with state-of-the-art radar units, investing more than $343,000 to replace old or obsolete devices used for speed enforcement. This is the first time in nearly two decades that the state has provided funding for the technology, which will allow agencies to more effectively target reckless drivers, making roadways safer for motorists and passengers.
“Speeding and reckless driving cause far too many avoidable tragedies,” Governor Cuomo said. “We’re proud to help our law enforcement agencies obtain the tools and equipment they need to combat this on dangerous behavior on our roadways and save lives in the process.”
More than 28,000 vehicle crashes in New York during 2014 were attributed to speed, with 280 of them resulting in death and another 1,661 resulting in serious injury. Radar units typically run upward of $1,500, a cost traditionally absorbed by local agencies. While state and federal grants are often available for a wide range of police equipment and technology, there is seldom funding for speed enforcement devices.
The need for new technology was identified by the state Division of Criminal Justice Services Highway Safety Technology Unit, which annually performs preventative maintenance and repairs on about 5,500 radar devices used by agencies across the state. While performing that work – done at no cost to agencies – technicians determined many of the units were too costly to repair, others lacked an ‘instant on’ transmit feature and some were too large for newer-model police cruisers, limiting their use.
DCJS Executive Deputy Commissioner Michael C. Green said, “Police agencies are often faced with tough decisions about how to spend limited resources. Our technicians realized, however, that fixing old technology was no longer cost effective or practical. This program is another example of the state using its expertise and resources to support local law enforcement agencies.”
The state last funded radar units for local police agencies in 1999. The DCJS Highway Safety Technology Unit is distributing the devices on a case-by-case basis with the goal of eliminating those that are most in need of replacement. When agencies bring devices to be serviced, Highway Safety Technology Unit technicians are replacing those deemed to be too costly or outdated to repair. Distribution will continue over the course of the year, with agencies receiving one device each; on average, the devices being replaced are 20 years old.
So far, 22 agencies have receive new radar units: the Cicero, Delhi, Fulton, Gowanda, Guilderland, Ithaca, Mt. Pleasant, South Nyack-Grandview and Whitestown police departments; the sheriffs’ offices in Clinton, Erie, Franklin and Hamilton counties; New York State Park Police in Bear Mountain, Long Island, New York City and Niagara Falls; state Department of Environmental Conservation Police Region 4; the Metropolitan Transportation Authority; and the SUNY Canton, SUNY Delhi and SUNY Plattsburgh police departments.
New York State Association of Chiefs of Police President Stephen W. Connor, who serves as MTA Chief of Administration, said, “Speed enforcement is one of the primary responsibilities of local police departments, as it helps ensure the safety of motorists and pedestrians in our communities. But upgrading to state-of-the-art equipment can be expensive: agencies and municipalities are always prioritizing purchases so taxpayer dollars are spent wisely. We are grateful that Governor Cuomo has made this funding a priority and value the technical expertise that the DCJS Highway Safety Technology Unit staff provide to police agencies across the state at no cost.”
Herkimer County Sheriff Christopher Farber, who serves as President of the New York State Sheriffs' Association, said, “All police officers need to have good and reliable equipment to work with in order to effectively enforce our traffic laws. We all see too often that violations of traffic laws, and particular speeding violations, lead to terrible auto accidents, injuries and deaths to innocent drivers or pedestrians. County budgets are strained to provide support and services to all our residents, so any help from the State to augment and increase our ability to enforce traffic laws is most welcome. We appreciate the efforts of Governor Cuomo and his law enforcement staff to help many police agencies obtain much needed radar equipment."
Staff of the Highway Safety Technology Unit calibrate, test and certify each device before providing it to the agency; new radar units are the property of the recipient department. The Highway Safety Technology Unit serves approximately 420 police agencies annually.
City, village and town police departments and sheriff’s offices, in addition to SUNY Police; state Park Police, state DEC Police and MTA Police, are eligible to receive the replacement units. The New York State Police are not, as that agency maintains its own radar devices.
The New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services (www.criminaljustice.ny.gov) is a multi-function criminal justice support agency with a variety of responsibilities, including law enforcement training; collection and analysis of statewide crime data; maintenance of criminal history information and fingerprint files; administrative oversight of the state's DNA databank, in partnership with the New York State Police; funding and oversight of probation and community correction programs; administration of federal and state criminal justice funds; support of criminal justice-related agencies across the state; and administration of the state’s Sex Offender Registry.
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