Cedar Rapids Police unleash new mobile speed camera

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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG-TV9) -- Cedar Rapids Police have unleashed a new type of automated speed enforcement camera on city streets. And the new device called a “DragonCam” will let officers concentrate on particular problems areas.

Sgt. Mike Wallerstedt demonstrates the departments new DragonCam in front of the Cedar Rapids Police Department. (Dave Franzman/KCRG-TV9)

Police say the new system combines a standard police laser measuring tool with a system to capture an image of the violation.

Just like the fixed speed cameras at certain intersections, and the four now not issuing citations on I-380, the automated system will send out notices of violations for anyone caught going 12 miles an hour or more over the speed limit.

The city’s vendor, Gatso USA, provided the $7,000 camera system to the city to use for a share of the citation fines. Gatso receives the images of violators, sends them back to police for approval and then mails out the civil citation.

There is one difference.

An office must trigger the device every time and is a witness to the speed violation.

Sgt. Mike Wallerstedt, with the CRPD traffic enforcement unit, sees the new mobile system as helping officers enforce speeds in more areas.

“We’ve often said automated traffic enforcement is a force multiplier. And this is going to do the same thing,” he said.

Police plan to concentrate the new DragonCam in school zones and road construction zones.

Police started using the device about a week and a half ago. One enforcement action took place outside Prairie High School in Cedar Rapids in a reduced speed zone during school hours.

Sixty drivers got caught on camera in a relatively short amount of time and will get citations with the minimum $50 fine, or higher depending on the speed, in the next week or two.

Police spokesman Greg Buelow says the department doesn’t expect much push back from drivers.

“No one will have any issue with this as long as they obey the speed limit. We want to get the message out there. We want people to slow down and obey the limit in those zones,” Buelow said.

The DragonCam is set up to generate civil fines that don’t have court costs and don’t count against licenses.

But Buelow says since the device is a fully functional laser speed gun, officers seeing excessive speeds or other moving violations can use the data, chase the vehicle down and hand out a regular traffic ticket.

The new DragonCam replaces another mobile speed unit, the so-called red Jeep, that police used for years but is now retired.