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Alexandria Police show off speed tools to area lawyers

Wednesday - 9/14/2011, 5:34am  ET

AlexCops.jpg
Sergeant Brian Thompson of the Alexandria Police Department, showing off LIDAR technology to a group of lawyers in Old Town Alexandria Tuesday. (WTOP Photo/Adam Tuss)

Adam Tuss, wtop.com

ALEXANDRIA, Va. - Alexandria Police are showing off some of their tricks of the trade when it comes to catching speeders.

Their audience: lawyers.

About two dozen lawyers representing Northern Virginia convened in Old Town Alexandria Tuesday, listening about the technology that's used to track down lead foots and the techniques police use to single out speeders.

"If the judges and the lawyers, as well as the defense attorneys are better prepared, then justice is better served," said Alexandria District Court Chief Judge Becky Moore, who put the group together. "I want to give them as solid a foundation legally and with hands-on experience as far as speeding cases are concerned in our traffic court."

In a courtroom, a radar specialist tapped a tuning fork against a piece of metal to show how radar guns are properly calibrated. Another calibration expert described how the air conditioning being turned up too high in a police cruiser could throw off a radar guns reading. At the corner of Prince Street and South Washington Street, Sergeant Brian Thompson held up a laser radar known as LIDAR to demonstrate how speeders are identified.

"I think he is going about 35 miles per hour," Thompson tells a group of lawyers as he holds up the LIDAR.

"I put this up there, it reads 37, that confirms what I said. I pull him over and show him the results, issue a summons, or give him a warning and send him on his way."

The LIDAR can switch back and forth between cars, giving different reading quickly.

"I see this guy going 53 miles per hour, this guy over here is going 50 -- guess which one is getting pulled over," Thompson says.

A 22-year veteran of the Alexandria Police Department, Thompson says he is noticing more speeders on the roads.

"There are more cars on the roadway, and people are becoming more impatient," he says.

Even as Alexandria deals with thousands of speeding cases in court every year, Thompson says he has never had a case thrown out because of the equipment.

"The judge may believe that the person wasn't intending to go that fast. It's a testimony thing," he says.

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(Copyright 2011 by WTOP. All rights reserved.)