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Donation means equipment for police

$5,000 will offer chance for traffic enforcement, training materials
By: Bridget Jones, Journal staff writer
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The Auburn Police Department can buy some new equipment after a $5,000 donation. City Council approved the donation by local resident Richard Rey Monday evening. Valerie Harris, Auburn Police chief, said the donation would be used to purchase some new traffic enforcement and training equipment. The department plans to spend some of the money to buy a new lidar traffic enforcement device. A lidar device is similar to a radar device in that it allows officers to detect the speed of motorists. Rather than operating by radio waves, the lidar operates off light pulses. An open line of sight is necessary for the use of the tool, but as long as the sight is clear the machine can find a reading, said Chris Forman, traffic officer for the Auburn Police Department. “The better the line of sight, the more efficient the return,” Forman said. Forman demonstrated this Tuesday afternoon by standing in front of the Auburn Police Department office on Lincoln Way and taking a reading of the speed of cars at the intersection of Grass Valley Highway and Palm Avenue. Although the cars were more than 3,000 feet away, the machine provided a clear reading. Forman said the multi-purpose device also provides officers with information that might be needed in situations such as car crashes. “It’s an efficient tool for enforcing speed, and it is used for measuring distances in investigating collisions,” he said. The Auburn Police Department has one lidar device currently, and Forman said the purchase of an additional machine would help the department with speed enforcement in the hopes of reducing collisions. “The officers are sharing (the device), and they will still continue to share (the two devices), but having an additional unit available will allow the officers to have the tools they need while on patrol,” Forman said. Harris said only trained officers would use the device. The department also plans to purchase accessories called simunitions, or simulated ammunitions, for guns that would allow the officers to participate in interactive training workshops, Harris said. Simunition cartridges are similar to paint gun pellets. They can be used in officers’ guns during training scenarios. The workshops give officers a chance to go into a life-like, police-controlled situation, possibly a staged hostage scenario, and tackle tough decisions they might have to make in real life, Harris said. “This would allow us to create our own scenarios where we have our own role players in one building,” Harris said. “It allows the officers to go through the decision-making process. (They) have (their) own weapons. (They are) able to pull it. (They are) able to fire it if need be.” Harris said the pellets help determine target accuracy during the trainings. Harris said Rey didn’t give specific advice on how the donation was to be used. “His direction was anything we can use to help facilitate for the officers’ benefit,” she said. “We greatly appreciate it in these difficult times.” Rey declined to comment on his donation. Auburn resident Becky Martin said it is great to see a community member make a large donation to the police department. “I think that is fantastic that somebody has the money to do that, especially with our economy the way it is,” Martin said. Martin said she would prefer the department spend the money on educational programs like the Every 15 Minutes program that teaches teens about the effects of drunk driving. “I know technology keeps advancing … but it is kind of a sleepy town,” she said. “I think if there is anything happening, they are going to catch (the suspect) within a block or two.” Reach Bridget Jones at bridgetj@goldcountrymedia.com