The police department unveiled a new speed monitoring device Thursday that will help law enforcement agencies in Orange County crack down on speeding. Officials crowded around as Mayor Kevin Foy praised the device, the Speed Monitoring Awareness Radar Trailer-Low Profile.
"We're very appreciative of UNC Hospitals for helping to provide this equipment," he said.
The unit was bought with the help of a $14,000 donation made by Gerald Fry, a Chapel Hill surgeon, for the benefit of the Orange County Safe Communities Program, an organization that works toward meeting safety equipment needs with financial contributions.
The Speed Monitoring Awareness Radar Trailer-Low Profile will be put beside a road and will record the speeds of passing traffic. The police department then analyzes the records to better assess where speed enforcement is needed.
"This unit is going to be a big help," Capt. Everette Johnson said. "Instead of sending in the police, we can set this up and check and see if there is a problem without an officer being there."
Christopher Baker, UNC professor of surgery and director of trauma prevention, said he hopes the device will help make the county's roadways safer.
"The main thing is that it's both educational and it allows people to really see the speed they drive at," Baker said. "The bottom line is that 50 percent of the injuries that occur in a vehicle are fatal. Educating and working on prevention is very important."
Police officer Lee Sparrow said the benefits of the device are twofold -- it helps driver awareness and also provides information for the police department.
"We can use it as a deterrent for speed and see if there is a problem," Johnson said. "If there is, we'll come and enforce it.
"We're going to put it in neighborhoods where we get a lot of complaints. It's usually where there is a lot of pedestrian traffic, where we get a lot of complaints."
Chantelle Hayes, OCSC coordinator, said Fry believed the equipment would help, a statement she says he based on his years of being a general surgeon and seeing speed-related injuries.
"It's programs like these that need private funding," she said.
Johnson also said donations like this help the police department address needs in the area.
"It allows us to get equipment we'd have to budget for," Johnson said. "There are other priorities in our budget that we'd have to consider.
"It allows us to buy the equipment we might not be able to buy at all."
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