|By Gary Knight|
Mayor of Grantsville
Today, Wednesday, December 29, Grantsville Police Officers Garrett and Starcher cited three motorists for driving 61 m.p.h., 62 m.p.h. and 70 m.p.h. respectively, each in a 25 m.p.h. zone.
Regrettably, this was not an a typical day for the Grantsville Police Department as the rate of violations and citations continues to be excessive and disproportionate given the size of our community, the width of our streets, and the potential for disaster and even tragedy.
Speeding is a continual problem in Grantsville, and, unfortunately, some feel that the town should be wide open to anyone who can concoct a reason or rationalization, based upon some false perception or misunderstanding of the law that confers amnesty from any penalties their reckless and/or negligent behavior, not to mention just plain old nonconsideration and/or disregard for the safety and well being of others.
One of the first questions violators ask me is, "Are they certified to run radar?" The answer is that there is no such thing as "certified on radar". I usually ask, "How certified does one need to be to read a number?" The simple answer is there is no radar certification; therefore, the officer is not required to be certified. So, out goes that.
Another question is, "Is it legal to operate radar in a town the size of Grantsville?" The answer: Yes, it is. Although Grantsville is a Class IV town and, by law, prohibited from the usage of radar as primary evidence, it is applicable and admissible as secondary evidence.
If a vehicle is moving at a speed of 40+ m.p.h. in a 25 m. p. h. zone, it should be obvious to anyone who witnesses it that the driver is in violation of the speed limit/law.
The radar is used to verify and gauge the actual mileage to ensure the driver is not unnecessarily or wrongfully stopped.
The law permits and endorses this procedure. Municipal court is in place, the judge is certified and endorsed by the State of West Virginia, and the Town of Grantsville will continue to use it to ensure the safety of those young and old, walking and driving within our municipality.
Another question asked is, "What's going on? Is the town broke?" No, the town is not broke and the enforcement is not a means of revenue. Besides, the pittance we get to keep wouldn't help us anyway.
Actually, the State of West Virginia receives by far the most of the money collected from fines. Again, our only motive is safety. The earlier cited examples, only a few of many, should clearly demonstrate the need for assertive and uncompromising law enforcement.
Many have criticized the police for their diligent and highly productive efforts to curtail speeding in our town. The town is small and there is no room for error when driving through it at an excessive and hazardous rate of speed.
By state law, anyone driving in excess of 17 m.p.h. over the posted speed limit is guilty of reckless driving and endangerment, a jailable offense.
We do try not to penalize people excessively. However, the police department is committed to making the narrow and sometimes busy streets of Grantsville a little safer for everyone.
Rather than criticism, maybe we should show some gratitude for the police department's efforts to ensure safety. The number of citations has become huge and the number of warnings even substantially larger.
We sincerely hope the need for this rate of enforcement will diminish and people will accept and demonstrate their awareness of their own accountability and potential liability when driving through town.
One never knows when a small child may break free from his or her mother or dad and dart out in front of a speeding vehicle. Who could live with that?
What about adults, especially the elderly, as well as the young, with impaired vision or hearing? Vehicular collisions are not infrequent in the Town of Grantsville.
I am proud of the Grantsville Police Department, recipients of the AAA Gold Achievement Award each of the past three years, for their promotion of public safety.
No doubt they will be out in full force New Year's Eve.
There is no meaningful amount of money in it for us, only peace of mind.