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Updated: July 8th, 2008 05:26 PM CDT

Another Eye On the Road: WSP's High-tech Patrol Van Detects Unsafe Trucks

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Spokesman-Review, The (Spokane, WA) (KRT)
via NewsEdge Corporation

Apr. 11--Tractor-trailer and RV drivers aren't quite sure what to make of the new Washington State Patrol van topped with a rotating space-age ball.

Their CB radio chatter, overheard by WSP officers north of Deer Park, reveals theories ranging from government spying to law enforcement attempts to crack down on human smuggling across the Canadian border.

The patrol purchased the $500,000 "thermal eye" van and equipment with a U.S. Department of Homeland Security grant, but conspiracy buffs may be disappointed to learn it is being used for the more practical purpose of identifying trucks with bad brakes.

Using heat-sensitive equipment, the van ?? the only one in the state ?? will be in the Spokane area through next week and is being used primarily at weigh stations north of Deer Park and on Interstate 90 near the Idaho state line.

The goals are increasing safety and speeding up inspections by identifying vehicles most likely to have equipment violations, said officer Nicholas Hopper.

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