11/27/2007FCC Investigates Neighborhood Association Speed Traps
The Federal Communications Commission is investigating whether neighborhood radar speed traps violate federal regulations.
The Federal Communications Commission's Enforcement Bureau is investigating whether police programs allowing neighborhood associations to conduct speed traps violate federal regulations. The agency began its inquiry in February when Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department (CMPD) decided to ask for FCC guidance after it had already encouraged elderly residents for more than a year to use radar guns to track the driving habits of neighbors.
"I don't quite understand why they would offer to train us, buy us signs, encourage us to report to them on a weekly basis and then report us to the FCC," James Roberts, the subject of an FCC complaint initiated by CMPD, told Newschannel 14 in Charlotte.
Roberts had been using a Bushnell Velocity Speed Gun to monitor traffic in his area. Although this inexpensive K-Band radar unit is exempt from FCC licensing requirements, its manual warns that improper usage "may cause harmful interference to radio communications." It is unlikely that Roberts violated any rule or faces any sanction for use of the low-powered gun.
Under the Communications Act, the FCC does not generally have the ability to fine someone who does not hold a license without first issuing a warning. Penalties for licensees can run up to $11,000 for each violation, or each day of a continuing violation. Most police radar guns do require a license to operate because of they use higher power levels. The department may face questioning if it loaned equipment requiring a license to uncertified users.
Roberts will not operate his radar gun while the inquiry is pending.