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8:19 AM Sun, Dec. 16th

Smile, you just earned a citation from DPS

Arizona Department of Public Safety Director Roger Vanderpool explains features of the new photo enforcement vehicle to Mohave County Sheriff Tom Sheahan after a news conference at the Kingman DPS office, 2319 E. Andy Devine Ave., on Friday.  AARON ROYSTER/Miner

Arizona Department of Public Safety Director Roger Vanderpool explains features of the new photo enforcement vehicle to Mohave County Sheriff Tom Sheahan after a news conference at the Kingman DPS office, 2319 E. Andy Devine Ave., on Friday. AARON ROYSTER/Miner

Lights! Camera! Action!

A scene no motorist in Arizona would want to be seen in: caught speeding on the roadways.

The Arizona Department of Public Safety announced the expansion of their photo enforcement program to Mohave County on Friday at a news conference at the Kingman DPS office, 2319 E. Andy Devine Ave.

One of two photo enforcement vehicles currently being used throughout the state was on display.

DPS has worked with Redflex Traffic Systems to get the vehicles up and running. The contract between the two is for two years.

Mohave County was targeted for the initial launch of the mobile photo enforcement because places in the county were identified as high collision areas, Commander Tom Woodward said. He manages the photo enforcement program for DPS.

The program was designed to reduce collisions on designated stretches of Arizona highways by using a number of photo enforcement vehicles, DPS Director Roger Vanderpool said.

DPS is utilizing the Ford Escape, a hybrid sports utility vehicle. They plan to request funding for more vehicles, Woodward said.

"We see this as something we can expand incrementally," Woodward said.

The DPS districts throughout the state will identify high collision areas in which speed is a factor.

The department will then place these vehicles along state highways in hopes of reducing fatal collisions and injuries.

DPS will not announce the location of the photo enforcement vehicles in advance.

"This program is not designed to replace any DPS highway patrol officers, because cameras alone will never be able to accomplish tasks like removing impaired and aggressive drivers from the roadway," Vanderpool said.

DPS, headquartered in Phoenix, utilizes 2,200 sworn and civilian employees in four divisions: highway patrol, criminal investigations, criminal justice support and agency support.

The program will be an additional tool that is expected to help the agency prevent collisions by reducing speeds, Vanderpool added.

Lt. Ron DeLong serves as the District 1 commander and is headquartered in Kingman. He said DPS will look at setting up along Highway 95, south of Bullhead City. He wouldn't say when one or both vehicles would be posted in the area.

"The goal of the program is to reduce the number of collisions," DeLong said. "Bottom line."

Two large yellow signs will be posted prior to the photo enforcement vehicle, alerting motorists who will hopefully obey posted speed limits.

"All I can say is, smile, because you deserve the ticket," Vanderpool said of motorists who don't slow down.

Any vehicle going more than the threshold of 11 mph over the speed limit will have its front and rear photographed, as well as being recorded on video as it passes.

"Our officers frequently issue citations at lower rates of speed," Woodward said. "This citation is no different than officers on the road."

The program is the first photo enforcement program in the United States administered by a state level law enforcement agency. The first step was placing stationary photo enforcement on Loop 101 in Scottsdale in February of last year.

According to an Arizona State University study, motorists' speed dropped 9.5 mph on average through the monitored stretch. It also found the cameras reduced crashes by as much as 70 percent.

Redflex Traffic Systems has been working with DPS since November for the rural rollout, Michael Ferraresi said. He is the associate marketing manager for the Scottsdale-based company.

They have tested the vehicles at the General Motors proving grounds, capturing vehicles exceeding 130 mph.

Other municipalities, including several cities in the Phoenix metropolitan area, have and continue to utilize photo enforcement vehicles.