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Exposed! Hideouts of traffic cops

The favorite hideouts of Utah's radar-toting traffic cops have been exposed.

No less than 139 most likely places to be caught speeding - from Skye Drive in South Jordan to U-9 in Hurricane - are listed on the WWW Speedtrap Registry (www.speedtrap.com).Since the Web site's birth in 1995, motorists across the country hoping to travel faster on the roadway have first taken a ride on the information superhighway. And judging from the 27 pages of insider information on the Beehive State, many Utahns - and folks passing through - are among them.

A review of the registry, however, reveals more than just speed traps to avoid. It says a lot about motorists and their attitudes toward law enforcement.

Many of the site's anonymous contributors, for example, seem just a little paranoid. And many of the "facts" they report turn out to be greatly exaggerated.

One submittal said the small town of Mantua, off U.S. 89/91 between Logan and Brigham City, now has 10 full-time police officers who patrol the highway 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Another claimed that the Mantua Police Department - as if it would have the power to do so - recently expanded the town's boundaries so it could catch more speeders.

All of that is news to Janis Johnson, who has lived in Mantua for 18 years and served as the town's justice court clerk since 1990. The town has only one full-time policeman and a part-timer, she said. And the town boundary has looked the same since she can remember.

One entry reports that the Utah Highway Patrol has a helicopter that patrols I-15 between Salt Lake City and Provo around-the-clock. In fact, UHP spokesman Verdi White II said, the troopers have only two choppers in the entire state. And while they may be used for airborne traffic monitoring at times, they are most often used for rescue operations and other emergency assistance.

Another contributor claims there is a new radar system in Eureka that detects out-of-state license plates and sounds an alarm to alert a waiting patrolman. John Horrocks, a deputy with the Juab County Sheriff's Department, figures that statement was written tongue-in-cheek. The sheriff's department doesn't even have an office in the small town of 562, nor does it have the remote capability of checking license-plate origins, he said.

According to another Registry entry, Tooele city police heavily patrol U-36 on the north side of town and do not issue warnings. The local judge "goes by the book," and police gave out a record 250 tickets in a two-week period.

All that is true, or was for eight days in September of 1997, according to city police Lt. Marvin Allie. Then-mayor Grant "Bud" Pendleton ordered a police crackdown on speeders in that area after receiving complaints from businesses, Allie said. But, Allie added, it's fine with the department if potential speeders think unforgiving cops are waiting for them on U-36.

"If they slow down, it helps us out a lot," he said.

White agrees that the Speedtrap Registry may actually make troopers' jobs easier. With 139 so-called speed traps identified, that's a lot of slowing down for motorists to do when driving through Utah.

"It doesn't hurt to give people information (about speed traps) because it acts as a deterrent in itself," White said.

But it is important, White said, for information to be accurate. One listing, for example, claims troopers in the Coalville area have a quota for the number of speeding tickets they must write. That just isn't the case, said White, but if that information prompts a motorist to drive the speed limit on I-80, then so be it.

The Speedtrap Registry is maintained by Andrew Warner, a self-proclaimed speeder who lives in Atlanta. About 100,000 people view the site each week, according to Warner.

Here are more claims about the habits of Utah traffic cops made by submitters to the Speedtrap Registry:

- The state has a new radar system that is remote-controlled and mounted on bridges and signs, and cannot be identified by radar detectors. (This simply is not true, White said.)

- It is not wise to drive through the town of Perry in a "jacked-up Chevy with no mud flaps."

- Local cops in the Santaquin area are "great guys" who "will be courteous to you."

- Cops in Willard "have a lot of free time on their hands as not much happens there."

- Hurricane is well known by locals as "the biggest speed trap in the whole St. George Valley," and officers there have "elected to arbitrarily issue tickets to out-of-town drivers who they know cannot contest the citations."

- Utah patrolmen particularly like to pull over vehicles sporting Grateful Dead stickers.