Speed Patrol: New speed tracking technology in MB

Myrtle Beach, SC - By Jennifer Grove - bio | email

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Myrtle Beach traffic officers say they now have one more tool in their toolbox to help control speeding inside the city. WMBF News Speed Patrol met up with officers to find out what the new technology is all about.

Myrtle Beach Police Officer John Bertang says the technology is called STEALTHStat.

"It has a built-in radar and a little computer in it and it tracks every vehicle, the direction, the time of day, and the speed," Bertang explained. "It puts everything into the computer and then we take it to our desktop and analyze the raw data."

The technology is simple enough; it is basically a box that is secured to a pole, but inside is a computer that gathers data on all of the cars that pass by. Officer Bertang says they use the data to help decide when and where to deploy officers to address speeding problems.

Because the technology is fairly new, Bertang says many people are still confused about what it does.

"Some of the myths are that we're taking pictures of cars and taking video of them," Bertang said. "While that technology is out there, that's not what we have and that's not really what we're striving for."

Instead, he says they are simply hoping to use the data they find to help them better allocate their resources and deter speeders, using enforcement as a last resort.

Looking over the graphed data, Bertang says he can zero in on problem times during the day when they are seeing higher speeds. He says they will then deploy officers to that area within that time frame.

For Tom Lorenz, whose neighborhood was recently monitored by the new technology, he says the technology is a welcomed response to his neighborhood's speeding concerns.

"In this neighborhood because we've had a huge amount of speeders, I thought it was a great idea to kind of indiscriminately monitor what was happening without the police here," Lorenz said.

In fact, Lorenz did not even notice the box until they took it down.

"What's nice is this thing is kind of hidden and off the beaten track," Bertang explained. "It really gives us a good idea about what's going on there, whereas if you have a big speed trailer or speed sign everybody sees it and people tend to slow down."

Lorenz says he would recommend other neighborhoods to consider requesting that police bring STEALTHstat to their streets.

"In this neighborhood it was not an intrusion of privacy," Lorenz said. "It was no big deal, and because we do have a lot of speeders here I do think it was an important step forward to reduce that."

Bertang says another positive aspect to the technology is that it did not cost the city any money, but was instead paid for through a grant.

As he waits on the results of the study in his neighborhood, Lorenz remains hopeful about the potential for STEALTHstat.

"I think it can only help improve our streets and the safety of our neighborhoods," he said.

Bertang says the technology has been in use for just one year in Myrtle Beach, and has so far been used in 24 neighborhoods.

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