Smile — you’re on a traffic camera in the Quad Cities, and your speeding ticket will be in the mail. A year and-a-half after putting automated systems at some busy corners to catch drivers who run red lights, Davenport will begin using a mobile radar station to nail speeders. Lieutenant Michael Venema says Tuesday it’ll begin operating after several days on the road training. He says the white Astro-van will be marked on both sides and the back indicating it’s a police speed enforcement vehicle. He says in the back of the van’s a special piece of equipment aimed at cars in traffic.

He says it’s a combination of a laser and camera, it takes pictures of the vehicle as it drives past, and also records its speed. When a car hits a certain speed over the limit, the camera automatically takes a photo of it and includes the time, date, location, speed and the picture of the license plate. There are also fixed speed-enforcement systems that’ll be put around the city of Davenport in high-crash zones instead of driving around town in a van. They chose sites where there have been a lot of crashes causing property damage and injury, and installed cameras on poles that also will be able to photograph vehicles traveling over the speed limit.

The system does not automatically send out a speeding ticket, until it’s been reviewed by a human in the law-enforcement office. The data’s matched with registration information and a police officer reviews it on a computer, checking the registration and seeing that the license plate matches the vehicle. Once all the information’s verified, the incident is sent off to a processing center where a notice is printed and sent to the registered owner of the vehicle. Venama says cops can’t catch every speeder, and have other cases that need their attention — and he’s seen the figures on the number of law-enforcement officers killed by firearms…and the similar number killed during traffic stops.

“Driving around the city can be the most dangerous part of your job,” he says, just because they spend so many hours out on the street, in all kinds of weather and responding to emergency situations. After the mobile speed van spends time at a trouble spot nabbing violators, the lieutenant says officers may also spend a few more days patrolling that part of Davenport, making sure drivers have learned their lesson and quit speeding.