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Hidden in plain sight: New tech helps South Portland police track speeding drivers

The devices collect data on volume of cars on a road and their speeds, but not individual license plate information.

SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine — South Portland Police are using a new technology to track where speeding happens most in the city so they can increase enforcement in those areas to keep people safe.

Speeding is a "chronic problem" according to local police departments across Maine.

"Speeding, stop signs, red lights -- that's the number one complaint any PD gets," said South Portland Police officer Rocco Navarro.

Navarro and fellow officers set up a few speed trailers up on busy roads near schools that show people how fast they are driving, but there are other devices hidden in plain sight that most drivers do not even notice when passing by.

The devices are small gray boxes are called "StatTrak" from a company called "All Traffic Solutions." The boxes record several metrics: the number of cars that pass it, how fast each car is going, the slowest and highest speeds, as well as the average speed and the time of day that each car passes it and at what speed.

Those details get transmitted to a computer program for Navarro to evaluate and analyze.

"It's a complete game-changer," said Navarro. "We can set these boxes up around the city and actually see if there is a problem occurring. Without any hard data, you really don't know. We can see exactly when these problems are happening and then act accordingly."

Navarro said the technology is new to South Portland Police, and that they are one of the only departments in the state using it.

Primarily, the devices are set up in school zones, where Navarro said there is a lot of foot traffic.

"Three of our schools lie on major roads in the city -- probably the busiest roads in the city," said Navarro.

The goal of using the devices is to study speeds and increase patrols where they need to prevent anything tragic from happening.

"That is the last thing anyone wants to see and we'll do anything we can to make sure that doesn't happen," Navarro said.

These boxes do not issue tickets: they collect data to help police know where to increase patrols. 

Officer Navarro said people who live in the city often tell them when they notice a speeding problem in their neighborhood, so he will put one of these boxes up to do a study, and then submit the report.