After 3 1/2 months of conducting 752 police speed details from Aug. 1 to Nov. 19, Belfast Police Department Chief Gerald Lincoln found that people tend to misjudge speeding cars, he said at a Dec. 1 City Council meeting.

Lincoln said speeding is one of the top priorities for the department, but when officers are deployed to monitor high-complaint areas, they find cars are not traveling as fast as people think. City Manager Erin Herbig said her office gets frequent complaints about speeding.

Officers have some discretion on the decision to issue a ticket, which is usually based on speed, driving history and other factors, he said. Fines range from $114 to $278, depending on how fast a driver is speeding.

Driving 30 miles per hour or more above the speed limit is considered criminal speeding and carries a fine of up to $1,000 and a maximum of six months in jail. Money for speeding fines goes directly to the state, not police departments, according to Lincoln.

The department has two speeding boards used to sense and display how fast drivers are traveling as they pass, to make people more aware of their speed, he said.

Councilor Mike Hurley said he would like to have more accurate information to give to the public about how many people speed in Belfast.

But Councilor Neal Harkness said it is nearly impossible to get accurate information on the true nature of speeding, because cars are likely to slow down when they notice a police cruiser. He wants people to feel confident that the department is aware of the issue.

Lincoln said he will continue to have officers conduct speed details in areas that elicit frequent complaints from residents. Councilor Paul Dean urged people to plan on leaving five minutes earlier so they do not feel they have to speed.