PITTSFIELD – Pittsfield police Officer Jason Emery rounded a curve on Route 100 on Tuesday morning and activated the cruiser’s radar. The machinery whined and locked onto an oncoming van.
“There’s a good one,” Emery commented. “71 in a 30.”
The driver was one of a dozen vehicles stopped for speeding Tuesday morning and one of four that received tickets. Another six were handed written warnings, and two more were warned for expired inspection stickers. And that was all before lunch.
Local police are claiming success for the town’s recently stepped-up speed enforcement detail as more and more of the cars on the road are well under the radar’s blip.
“It’s working,” Chief Stephen Emery said Tuesday afternoon.
Emery initiated the speed detail after town councilors asked for a crackdown.
Earlier this month, Chief Emery appeared before the Town Council to provide details of an underage liquor enforcement program. The councilors took the opportunity to tell Emery they wanted more speed enforcement.
“It was really getting out of control,” the chief said.
In addition, Maine Central Institute, the town’s high school, asked for increased patrols due to three accidents at the campus in just the first week of school.
Ted Crabtree lives on Phillips Corner Road, a rural but major route to Pittsfield from Route 2.
“The police can park here anytime and see cars doing 80 miles per hour,” Crabtree said Tuesday. Pointing at the road’s double line, Crabtree said he has even seen vehicles passing each other at high speeds. “It’s just crazy.”
Since Oct. 3, Pittsfield officers have handed out 28 speeding tickets and 13 warnings. It didn’t surprise the police when all those tickets except five were given to adults.
“We have always known the majority of our speeders are adults,” Chief Emery said. “And they are really speeding. These are not borderline tickets.”
Speeds such as 68 mph in a 35 mph zone are not uncommon, Emery said.
Some of those tickets can be mighty expensive, Officer Emery said. On Tuesday, a man driving at what first appeared to be a slow 31 mph was actually in a 15 mph school zone.
“Sixteen over the speed limit is a $360 ticket,” Emery said.
That kind of speed delivers an automatic ticket, the officer said, but he added that at lower speeds, he has to use his judgment and common sense.
“I don’t give everyone a ticket,” Emery said. “It depends on how fast they are going, their driving history and even their attitude.”
A 16-year-old stopped Tuesday for not wearing a seat belt snipped at the officer when told to put it on. He got a ticket and as a result, because his license isn’t a year old yet, he likely will lose it.
This week, speeders seem to have gotten the message.
“They are really slowing down,” Emery said.