ALPHARETTA, Ga. — Alpharetta police will soon have two new tools at their disposal to crack down on speeders and identify suspected criminals.

The City Council is set to adopt a change to the local code this week allowing for installation of automated traffic enforcement safety devices in school zones. The measure comes in the wake of legislation passed earlier this year allowing for deployment of detection equipment to monitor school zones.

The Alpharetta code change passed on first reading at the council’s July 22 meeting and is expected to come up again this week for final adoption.

The measure would allow the city to partner with a private contractor to monitor school zones for speeding violations. Because any funds generated from fines would be split with the city, the arrangement would cost Alpharetta nothing.

At a special council workshop held in May, Alpharetta Police Maj. T. Lindgren presented a report showing that during a one-week period, monitors recorded more than 3,500 speed violations at six local schools. The study was performed by traffic safety systems firms Red Speed USA and Verra Mobility and covered 2 hours a day, one hour before and one hour after classes for five days. 

The study revealed dozens of cases where motorists were clocked at more than 30 mph over the speed limit in the school zone. New Prospect Elementary logged 53 such cases. One motorist was clocked at 59 mph through a school zone.

Lindgren said the monitoring equipment used under the program would be state certified for calibration, and all violations would be reviewed by an Alpharetta police officer before a citation would be issued.

The city hopes to have the monitoring equipment set up by the fall, said Alpharetta Police Maj. S. Mechler, but it will depend on how soon it is delivered and can be installed.

“We do have a significant problem, and we have for many years, of people who are speeding, driving irresponsibly in school zones when children are present,” Mechler said.

There is a requirement for a 30-day testing/grace period and the posting of signs to alert motorists of the monitoring devices.

The City Council also recently approved an agreement with Georgia Power for $67,000 to provide equipment and services necessary to establish a SiteView license plate reader program. The agreement provides for three surveillance devices stationed at three locations within the city, making use of the utility’s infrastructure.

Within the past month, Alpharetta began operation of one mobile reader that can operate in patrol cars. Within its first day of operation, the device detected one motorist with a suspended license, Mechler said. The driver was also found to be in possession of 2 grams of marijuana.

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