East Hampton Town Seeking Grant For Smart Signs

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The East Hampton Town Police Department is seeking a $15,000 grant to purchase new radar speed signs that would allow the department to track speed, traffic volume, and cellphone and seat belt use.

According to Nicole Ficeto, the town’s grants coordinator, the town is applying to the New York State Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee’s Highway Grant Program for a grant to purchase three of these signs. A fourth would be bought with town money. Each 15-inch sign is portable and costs $4,950.

East Hampton Town Police Lieutenant A.J. McGuire said the signs would be a major help to the department in terms of understanding trouble areas and bad driving behaviors.

“The buzz word is ‘intelligence-led policing,’” he said in a telephone interview on Thursday. “We’d be using raw data to figure out where to put our patrols and how to do it efficiently.”

He said it beats the typical process of receiving a civilian complaint of, say, speeding on a residential street, and sending out a patrol, which would sit and watch for speeders for two hours, for example.

The signs would offer a less conspicuous way to measure issues in the town and would log data electronically. Lt. McGuire said the department would have access to a free phone application for one year that would allow them to access the information and send a car out to address an issue.

Additionally, the signs have the capability to take pictures of motorists, particularly for better enforcement of cellphone use and those who don’t wear seat belts.

Lt. McGuire said, however, the signs don’t ticket people like some traffic light speed cameras do.

The plan is to place all four signs out where police want additional information, like Montauk Highway’s school zones, the Napeague stretch and Route 114, for example.

Police could use the system’s information to find out the number of tickets issued on those particular roads, and how many accidents there were, including how many caused injury and fatality.

The police department has recently bought two trailers with similar signs on them.

If the grant is awarded, the town hopes to put up the signs by November.

“I think they’ll be a tremendous asset,” Lt. McGuire said. “We’ll be able to direct patrols in times that matter, and we won’t be hypothesizing [about where to send them].”

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