Friday, police officers gathered to accept a Kustom ProLaser III from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety. The device will keep drivers at safe and legal speeds by allowing for better targeting of identified vehicles while continually updating the target’s speed.
“Winnebago Police Department will be better equipped to identify vehicles driving at illegal and unsafe speeds,” says chief Bob Toland. “The ProLaser III is a tool that will help make our community safer.”
This is the first time the department has received a large incentive from the department of public safety.
“These lasers have a healthy price tag of $3,000-$4,000,” says Scott McConkey, law enforcement liaison for the department of public safety. “It will be a good addition to the department.”
The Winnebago department was specifically rewarded for work done during Labor Day weekend. Patrol officer Mike Beletti organized a seat belt survey of traffic in the city.
He took a sample of 100 cars and noted if drivers were wearing their seat belts.
One survey was completed before the a state-wide media campaign to encourage seat belt use and another was done afterward. The results of the survey indicated area seat belt use had increased in Winnebago after the media campaign. Winnebago turned in their paper work in a timely fashion and later learned they were going to be rewarded.
“We submit our reports online through traffic safety and Mike (Beletti) is heading up that department,” Toland says. “It’s Mike’s hard work that got us the laser.”
The laser must be stationary in use, but McConkey says the new equipment, which everyone in the department will use, is a vast improvement.
“The accuracy of the laser is much better,” he says. “The continuous interactive dialog makes it a lot more user friendly.”
The new laser is just one tool the Winnebago Police Department will use to keep motorists safe.
“Winnebago Police Department is a partner, with hundreds of other departments, that strive toward zero deaths and focuses enforcement towards that goal,” says McConkey. “We know state of the art equipment like this will change people’s driving behavior.”
This past year in the state of Minnesota, the number of fatalities on roadways was below 400 for the first time since 1944. In 2011, traffic crashes claimed the lives of 349 people which represents a 38 percent reduction in deaths since 2001.
“We are elated to bring that number down to the lowest it’s been since 1944,” McConkey says. “But if you know someone on the list, that number is still too high. We will not be done until no one dies.”
Winnebago police chief Bob Toland credits the reduction in deaths to new laws in place and campaigns developed by the Minnesota Department of Public Safety.
Last year, the Towards Zero Deaths Campaign focused on four things to improve the safety of roadways – speeding, seat belt use, DWIs and distracted driving.
Winnebago didn’t miss participating in a single campaign last year.
“We could give Winnebago a plaque for excellence and that would be nice,”?McConkey says. “A piece of equipment is much better.”
Mike Beletti and Bob Toland look over the new laser.