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San Diego Police to Phase Out Radar Guns

December 25, 1991| From Associated Press

SAN DIEGO — The San Diego Police Department is phasing out hand-held radar guns used to detect speeding motorists because some officers believe the guns may cause cancer.

Capt. Nancy Goodrich said the microwave-emitting radar devices will be phased out over the next two years in favor of new laser technology that has not been linked to any ill effects.

No San Diego police officers have taken ill as a result of using the department-issued Kustom Signals Inc. radar guns, officials say.

However, news reports on three Connecticut police officers who said the guns gave them cancer appear to have affected use of the radar guns in Southern California, officials say. One month after San Diego's motorcycle officers learned of the possible cancer connection, the number of speeding tickets issued using radar guns dropped drastically.

The San Diego Police Officers Assn. considers the guns "relatively safe, as long as you don't keep turning it on your body . . . over long, long periods of time," said Harry Eastus, labor union president.

Kansas-based Kustom Signals, one of the largest radar gun manufacturers, denies that the devices pose a health hazard. The company says that microwave emissions from microwave ovens are hundreds of times more powerful than those from radar guns.

Scientific experts say most radar guns put out about the same amount of energy as a child's walkie-talkie. Others say such comparisons are not fair because they do not take into account power density, exposure levels and other variables.

Connecticut State Police, at least half a dozen Connecticut cities and police in St. Petersburg, Fla., consider the controversy enough of an issue to have suspended use of hand-held radar guns.

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