Burlingame citizens to put brakes on speeders

If you have ever been frustrated by other drivers going too fast, here is your chance for revenge: A Burlingame police-community partnership that allows citizens to catch speeders — sort of.

The Burlingame Police Department is launching the Citizen’s Speed Watch program this fall to help curtail motorists who zoom too quickly around the streets of Burlingame.

Volunteers will be trained by police to use portable radar devices so they can monitor speeds in neighborhoods, said police Chief Jack Van Etten.

Citizens won’t be able to pull over speeders, but they can clock violators on a radar gun and write down license plate numbers, which they can then hand over to authorities, who will send drivers a warning letter.

In areas found to have high numbers of speeding infractions, the program could also lead to increased traffic enforcement in those zones.

“They’re not going to be issuing citations or confronting anybody,” said patrol Cmdr. Michael Matteucci.

Traffic violations are always a concern in Burlingame, Van Etten said, partly because the city has narrow streets.

“We get a lot of traffic complaints from citizens about traffic in general,” Matteucci said. “Thirty years ago when our chief started, the main complaint from citizens was about traffic, and 30 years later it still is.And 30 years from now it probably still will be.”

It’s also a way to empower and educate residents, some of whom may think cars are speeding when in actuality they are not, Matteucci said. Either way, the plan could make streets safer without actually sending out officers, Matteucci said.

“Speed Watch is something that’s conducted in what we’d like to say is a partnership with the community,” Van Etten said. “It’s something we want to educate the public with.”

mrosenberg@examiner.com

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