Somerton police get new patrol car
SOMERTON - If you're driving through Somerton after having a few drinks, watch out for the new patrol car.
Somerton Police Officer Frank Gradias just might pull you over in his brand-new traffic enforcement vehicle, which targets impaired drivers.
The Governor's Office of Highway Safety allotted a $27,000 grant to the police department in 2003 because the department was able to justify approval of the car, in part by the number of drunken driving arrests it has made, said Terry Hollis, police chief.
Gradias said the car is equipped with a camera and microphone device - called Eyewitness - that enables the officer to record traffic stops visually and audibly.
Hollis said the new car is the only unit in the Somerton Police Department's fleet that has this capability, which gives the officer more leverage in court for a particular case.
Somerton Justice of the Peace Judge Manny Figueroa said video can stand in court as evidence in a DUI case, speeding or other minor traffic violation cases.
In a speeding case, he said the Eyewitness equipment is capable of recording the license plate of the vehicle, its speed, and the time and date the violation occurred.