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  #1 (permalink)   IP: 192.168.0.1
Old 2008-01-28
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Default Case pits police radar against GPS in teen's car

I happened upon a fascinating article in which Carl Fors of Speed Measurement Labs (SpeedingLimits.com) was mentioned...

Case pits police radar against GPS in teen's car

The court challenge [by the youth] appears to have been successful.

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  #2 (permalink)   IP: 68.2.133.82
Old 2008-01-28
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Default GPs vs. radar

Hey Veil Guy:

I looked on Fors' Web site but didn't spot the story. But I'm quite familiar with the case. The manufacturer of the radar gun involved in the case called me last fall to see if I'd consider working for them as an expert witness.

Here are the facts of the case. High school student Shaun Malone was cited for 62 mph in a 45 zone. The Petaluma PD officer who wrote him has operated radar for over 6 years. He used a Decatur GHD, an inexpensive but quite good hand-held. I have one that I've logged a number of hours with.

Malone's parents had installed a GPS tracking unit in his car to monitor his driving. The system reported that at about the time of the infraction the kid was driving no more than 45 mph. At trial the defense is expected to assert that the GPS was accurate and the radar wasn't.

I wish them luck. There’s no judicial notice of GPS’ accuracy but there are 50 years of precedent radar case law. In most cases, the only way you’ll win in court against radar is to challenge the officer’s use of the device.

Apparently Mr. Fors doesn’t agree. The only story about this case where I found him mentioned was in the ExpandMyWealth shopping Web site. In the story he’s quoted about his opinions on radar’s accuracy:

Carl Fors, president of Speed Measurement Laboratories Inc., a Fort Worth, Texas-based company that specializes in radar technology, trains police around the country in the use of radar. He said it is subject to both human and technical error. In one notable example, he said an officer he observed using radar clocked a rock going 72 mph. The error was caused by the heater fan blowing air inside the officer’s car.


Excuse me? Someone who bills himself as a radar expert should know that HVAC fans never generate speeds over about 35 mph, even at their highest setting. And those phantom speeds disappear when a real target is within range.

Regardless, maybe he has greater knowledge of GPS. But I’d put my money on the radar.

Craig


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  #3 (permalink)   IP: 192.168.0.1
Old 2008-01-28
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Craig,

I reckon his [Carl's] ultimate point, however, in which I believe you would fully agree, is that police radar is not infallible (and mostly it may come down to operator error) and he actually may have been referring to the following published report/article which appears on the National Motorists Association's website (not his site) and was an article originally published in 2004 by the Philadelphia Daily News:

TAKIN' AIM AT RADAR GUNS

You too covered this subject at length in your most recent book.

Is this to say the case has still yet to be adjudicated? If not, what do you believe is likely to happen in this instance?

It appeared [to me] that it had been in Derek's article, unless I mis-interpreted it?

I wonder if any kind of target vehicle OBD-II type metrics/logs could ever be used [one way or another]?

That's the one very appealing thing about police laser, proper identification of the targeted "offending" vehicle is much more reliable, as you well know.

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Old 2008-01-28
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Default GPS vs. Radar

Veil Guy:

Mr. Fors is quoted as saying he witnessed the officer clocking the 76 mph rock which certainly says that he was there. I'd guess that the inspiration for his dazzling folk tale came in the 1980 Florida vs. Aguilera trial. Fuzzbuster marketer Dale Smith took a team of bogus experts and radars with their filters disabled to Miami and pointed the antenna at banyan trees, houses, mail boxes, etc. while a 72 mph target speed appeared on the counting/display unit. The press loved it. Looks like Carl just dusted it off and created a new version about the magic 76 mph rock.

The NMA story is ancient history. And these alleged incidents of faulty radar operation never happened either. I spoke with the Decatur board chairman at the time that flap was hot news, over two years ago, and the claimed inaccuracies were pure BS. The Shingara character quoted in the NMA story was known to be in Kustom Signals' pocket and tried to sabotage the purchase of Decatur GHS radar. First he altered the bid specs and when that failed and the radars were purchased, he was happy to pour fuel on the fire when the controversy arose.

His assertion that 2003-04 model CVPIs generate phantom target speeds is hogwash. He couldn't create the phenomenon when asked to and neither could his supervisors, the radio techs or anyone else. I've logged hundreds of hours with a GHS and never witnessed it either.

Mr. Shingara was invited to explore other career opportunities once all the facts came to light. Meanwhile, the PSP continues to use Decatur radar.

Craig


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  #5 (permalink)   IP: 192.168.0.1
Old 2008-01-28
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Craig,

Is this to say that the news reports have gotten this one completely wrong?

If so, perhaps the record can be set straight (although Mr. Fors was not even mentioned nor cited in the Philadelphia Daily News article): weisenn@phillynews.com

At any rate, sounds like this industry is riddled (at a lot of levels) with a jaded history.

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