The message is clear to motorists – Watch your speed!
Kittanning Police Chief Bruce Mathews told Borough Council members last Monday night that his officers were ready to begin speed enforcement.
Council had received numerous complaints at various locations. Parents were concerned about children waiting for school buses. Elderly residents reported drivers traveling at high rates of speed making it dangerous for them to cross the highway.
Mathews said that initially his department will focus on North Water Street and Johnston Avenue. The chief emphasized that he wasn’t interested in writing citations, but rather encouraging drivers to comply with the speed limits.
“Since Tuesday, we have had about two dozen points of contact (traffic stops),” Mathews said. “We don’t want to be counter-productive as to why we are out here, so it is up to the officer on how to address warnings verses citations. The officer has that option. There is no set number of tickets that I have asked to be written. Instead, I want them to make points of contact and productivity to lowering the speed of drivers in the borough.”
Mathews believes that as the community begins to be aware of the speed limits again, they will comply and the number of “points of contact” will drop dramatically.
“You have to have allowances to work with people in the community, and not necessarily by the letter of the law. You can still get compliance, get the message across, have a presence out here and be effective.”
State law restricts municipalities from using radar. Therefore, lines have been painted across the street and Kittanning Police will use a sophisticated electronic stopwatch that is approved by the state for calculating speed.
“There’s a lot of misnomers about timing devices – that it’s antiquated – that it’s not up to speed – that they’re easy to beat in court. And that’s not true. This isn’t a stopwatch like you would have on your wrist watch. This is basically a mini-computer that does all the calculations. They have to be certified every 60 days, with certificates of accuracy, and they are approved safety timing device equipment by the state for use.”
Mathews said the department has two timing devices and could be used simultaneously at two different locations in the borough.
“This is really nice to use because when you come to set up, everything is already done. There’s no calibrating; there’s no calculating. The lines are at a set distance and already recorded. We don’t even have to be in the police car when it’s set up.”
While North Water Street and Johnston Avenue are designated as high traffic areas, Mathews said they aren’t the only areas police will be watching.
“You’ll see other areas where these lines are set up and it will be rotated in the enforcement. These are the high designated areas that are of grave concern and where we’re going to start the majority of the concentration in the beginning. There have been a few times already that we conducted enforcement on Orr Avenue.”
Mathews said Council will be given the results of enforcement for September at their meeting on Monday, October 7.