PORTALES, N.M. (KRQE) – A southeast New Mexico town is looking to get speed cameras. The Portales police chief says the need for the cameras comes from speeders and the number of accidents the city has had. The police chief and Portales city council were shocked to see people going 60 mph over the speed limit on city streets in Portales.

Portales Police Chief Christopher Williams says crashes have increased throughout the city since 2020. In 2020, 311 crashes were reported, and in 2021 there were 364. After seeing those numbers, the police department partnered with a company that specializes in public safety. They did this in hopes of finding areas where drivers tend to speed; the results surprised Chief Williams. “Just the speeds, I mean, we had speeds that were double, and some were more than triple, of the speed limit in those school zones during that time,” said Williams.

Glenn Johnson is the owner of Coach J’s BBQ in Portales and said he has seen three to four accidents in front of his restaurant. He was shocked to learn that, in the study, drivers were going 40 mph over the speed limit in a school zone. “It should not happen in that area, to begin with, and being responsible adults and responsible drivers you would expect that they would make sure to pay attention to that,” said Johnson.

He said the speed cameras will help by providing an extra set of eyes out in the street. The cameras will also help officers answer other calls throughout the city. “The officer isn’t standing on the side of the road worried about getting hit by a passing vehicle. It’s just safer and a way to multiply the low amount of officers we have on the street,” said Williams.

The goal is to have at least ten speed cameras in major traffic areas throughout the city. Williams is hopeful this will help decrease crashes and speeders in Portales. “What we’re hoping for is something to help generate awareness and hopefully reduce the need for cameras in the future,” said Williams.

The Portales council passed a motion earlier in March similar to Albuquerque’s ordinance. Chief Williams said he hopes the speed cameras will be up and running by the fall of this year. There will also be a grace period of one month; that way drivers can get used to the speed cameras. Portales will be the first municipality in Eastern New Mexico to have speed cameras.