ST. JOSEPH, Mo. -- Speeders beware. You may soon be on your neighbor's radar.
The St. Joseph Police Department will begin loaning radar guns to residents worried about the lead-foots in their neighborhood.
The new program, which is currently seeking sponsors, was prompted by the limited number of officers available to catch speeders and to get residents to take more ownership in their neighborhood.
Speeding complaints top the list of traffic concerns police receive, said Sgt. Bill McCammon, Traffic Unit supervisor.
"We don't have the manpower to go out and dedicate the time needed to reduce speeding," Mr. McCammon said. "This is a way to try to get residents more involved in taking care of their own problem, with our assistance, of course."
Volunteers will run radar from their own cars as part of a two-person team in residential neighborhoods.
One person will clock any vehicle traveling more than 10 mph over the speed limit, and the other person will write down the license plate and type of vehicle.
Later, if police find the license plate and vehicle description match, a warning letter will be sent to the car's registered owner.
"It just informs them that their vehicle was observed speeding in this neighborhood, on this date, and reminding them they have to watch their speed, especially because it's a residential area," Mr. McCammon said.
Since 2003, a similar community policing program has been in place in Shawnee, Kan.
Shawnee Police Department Lt. Doug Orbin said neighborhood speed watchers have helped police target speed traps to true problem areas.
Volunteers are told to be as invisible as possible, park their cars legally, and call police if an alleged speeder confronts them.
"We can't be everywhere like people want us to be," Mr. Orbin said. "And this has helped us be where the problems are."
And while some residents may be enthused to nail speeders, other concerned residents may be reluctant.
Under the program, police also will offer neighborhoods with speeding problems yard signs reading "Slow Down," Mr. McCammon said.
Geri Dyche, a member of the Mitchell-Pacific 33-37 Neighborhood Watch Group, said she often sees motorists on her residential street in the 3500 block of Pacific Street traveling 10 or 20 mph over the 35 mph speed limit.
She and her husband hope to volunteer on their street, but she worries cars travel too fast to actually catch the license plate.
The Police Department is seeking sponsors to make an initial purchase of two $395 reconditioned radar guns to start the program. To be a neighbourhood speed watcher, contact the Traffic Unit at 271-5359.
Ahmad Safi can be reached