No secret: Why The New Mexican publishes the speed SUV locations

Posted: July 6, 2011 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , ,

One of Santa Fe Police Department's two speed enforcement SUVs. (Luis Sanchez Saturno/The New Mexican file photo)

Nobody likes getting a speeding ticket from those damn speed SUV’s parked around town. As such, many people come to either this blog (see link at top of page) or check The New Mexican each morning to see where the speed SUVs are being parked each morning.

But some people — many people actually — have voiced concern to me about our publishing of those speed SUV locations. In fact, a letter to the editor in Tuesday’s New Mexican specifically addressed that concern. It read:

Why are the Santa Fe Police Department Speed SUV locations reported every morning? The purpose of placing them in new locations daily is to surprise drivers and catch speeders. By alerting us prior to the placement, we are defeating the purpose of actually having the Speed SUV.

Ticketing is the ultimate lesson on breaking speed limits; that’s why it’s done. If the newspaper’s ulterior motive is to encourage driving at speed limits and avoiding tickets, then why not just bluff? Report the SUV at false locations daily. That would be community service. The fact is, by reporting the SUVs’ locations, it implies that speeding will be overlooked elsewhere. This thwarts the SFPD’s work to make our roads safer.

As much as I dislike the Speed SUVs, ultimately these reports are not doing our community a favor; the SUVs work if they’re a surprise.

— Pat Malone, Santa Fe

That is a sentiment I have received in numerous emails over the past several months. But the “we are defeating the purpose” point is actually a false one.

Aside from this being public record and, even more importantly it being a legal requirement of police to publish the locations (it’s posted weekly on the City’s website, too), the real reason we publish the locations of the speed SUVs is simple. The police department has asked for our cooperation in getting the word out about these speed SUVs.

The purpose of the speed SUVs is NOT about catching speeders. It is about changing driving habits through public awareness.

Regardless of one’s opinion on whether this is a money making venture by the city or not, the reality is the intention of the speed SUVs from Day 1 has been about changing the driving habits of speeders around town, especially in identified trouble areas around town. As such, the speed SUVs are supposed to be known. They’re supposed to be visible. They are not about the element of surprise.

Publishing the speed SUV locations, just as police departments around the country ask for help in publishing announcements of DWI checkpoints in advance, are about public awareness and the changing of driving habits as opposed to a gotcha mechanism intended on busting people violating.

In short, police around the country WANT people to know where these speed vans and speed SUVs are located because the intent is awareness of them, not an attempt to hide them.

Whether or not you agree with the method is another question. But as far as why we publish the speed SUV locations, its simple. We’re trying to help our readers with awareness.

  1. […] may be right, but before the nasty e-mails start coming in as they have in the past, please know the goal of the program according to the city is not to catch drivers in the act and surprise them with these speed […]

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