Surface-to-Air Speed Traps: ‘Hash Marks’ on ground helping Troopers high in the sky
“If we don’t have any other missions and the weather is conducive for it, we try to launch every day,” says Trooper Scott Sborov who is a pilot for the Washington State Patrol. He is able to keep an eye on traffic violators from the air using a calibrated stop watch. It’s one of the most effective ways to catch people who commit traffic violations over a long period of time. Sborov says, “Typically on the ground, if you can see them, they can see you so they might stop some of that behavior. In the air, we’re able to write down that behavior for at least half a mile.”
Trooper Sborov is one of only five pilots who are cleared to work the two-hundred courses in the state. These “courses” as they’re called use has marks on the side of the road to track half mile distances. Pilots guide troopers on the ground to violators. “I’m in continuous communication with the ground crew troopers, if I see a vehicle that looks like it should be stopped, whether it’s speed, aggressive driving, following too close, unsafe lane changes- I radio down to the troopers on the ground, give them the time, description of the vehicle, the violations I observed,” said Sborov.
Seargent Kirk Rudeen prefers this method of traffic stops as well, saying “It’s not just an instantaneous speed read with a laser, you get a good idea of the persons driving, of their driving behavior and you get an average speed which the judges really like.”
Most people who were stopped had no idea they could be monitored from the air. One woman stopped for speeding asked us not to use her name, but commented during the stop, “He just told us they have an aircraft over head? I didn’t know that they do that.” But police want violators to know they are watching in hopes people will slow down and drive safely. Rudeen adds, “The aircraft’s another tool that we use in a very effective and efficient manner to basically try to keep people safe out here. “