"The Mole" helps Pleasanton police

July 15, 2009 12:48:07 AM PDT
New technology is helping Pleasanton police crackdown on red light violators. The East Bay city has seen an increase in injury collisions, so the department hopes its new tool will help make the streets safer.

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There's a new piece of technology called "the mole." It's a handheld device that's simple and easy to use, and because of it Pleasanton police are catching a good amount of red light runners these days. The driver of a blue Toyota became the latest target of Pleasanton's new traffic enforcement tool.

"Just be a little bit more careful I guess. Pay a little more attention to the lights especially in traffic," says driver Paul Horace.

Pleasanton is the first Northern California law enforcement agency to use the mole. Through wireless technology, each handheld is able to display the status of each traffic light in real time, allowing an officer to see red light runners from any position of an intersection.

"Whereas before we would have to sit behind the light, watch the light turn red, watch the violator go through and then we would have to go through that red light? Now we can sit on the other side, safely execute the traffic stop, keeping officers safer and the general public safer," says Officer Chris Niederhaus.

Pleasanton Police say red light violations have been a consistent problem over the years, but more so recently as more people are avoiding the highways and using Pleasanton streets to get to other cities.

The department looked into red light cameras, but those cost tens of thousands of dollars each. The handheld devices cost $3,000 each, plus Pleasanton police like the human element.

"You're able to talk to an officer when he stops you, explain if there's an emergency, why he went through a red light, whereas a camera just takes a picture and sends you a ticket," says Niederhaus.

The Pleasanton community doesn't seem to be complaining, even those caught in the act.

"If it's safer for them, I'm all for it, except you know you get a ticket," says Horace.

So far, eight Pleasanton intersections are equipped with the mole technology.

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