Nov 30, 2006
Cops blitz streets to slow drivers
By John Kovach
With complaints about speeding on the rise, police have often responded that they can’t have an officer on every corner.
But on Monday, November 20, they called in extra officers on overtime and focused on some trouble spots in what may become a monthly enforcement blitz.
Between the hours of 6 a.m. and 2 p.m., police cited 223 violations, writing 195 tickets, 15 misdemeanor summonses and one warning, along with 12 verbal warnings.
Fines levied, ranging from $150 to more than $200, go to the State. A recent change in law gives a small percentage — roughly $10 per ticket — to the issuing agency, but Chief Edward Nadriczny said he opposed the measure, saying it would lead those stopped to comment that they were only being pulled over so the police can make money.
The reason for the enforcement blitz, police stressed, was to slow drivers down.
“It was visible and we think very successful,” Police Commission Chairman Jim Cole said during the commission’s meeting Tuesday, November 21. “We’re going to do it again.”
The 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. shift was kept on duty on overtime and three crews were sent out. Two used police cars with radar units, one used a Parks Department truck and a radar unit.
Mr. Cole described the effort as an “innovative” one on which Police spent some money to enforce traffic laws.
“We have to get out there,” Chief Nadriczny said. “People are being told there’s a traffic safety issue.”
“We don’t have the manpower to have a traffic unit,” he said.
During three and one-half hours at the corner of Weed Street and Wahackme Road, police issued 38 speeding tickets. Another 35 were issued at the corner of South Avenue and Gerdes Road between 10:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.
On Pocconock Trail, where residents have lobbied for months for speed humps, 17 tickets were issued between 6 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. The same number of tickets were issued on lower Weed Street between 10:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.
In 20 minutes on Silvermine Road near the Norwalk border, no violations were reported.
Chief Nadriczny said most of the feedback was “positive.” Neighbors, he said, came out of their homes to thank officers for slowing traffic in their area.
One driver issued a ticket returned to argue that use of the Parks Department truck constituted entrapment.
In discussing other traffic calming techniques, Mr. Cole said data so far does not demonstrate a problem of great magnitude on Pocconock Trail.
Possible ways to slow traffic include permanent signs that flash speeds to oncoming motorists, similar to the portable trailer that does so.
A group is forming to study ways to calm traffic in town, which would include representatives of the Police, Fire Department, Highway Department, Public Works, Town engineer and residents who volunteer by contacting Mr. Cole.
Roads will be categorized, problems prioritized and solutions determined.
“We need to realize what can be done where,” Mr. Cole said.
When Mr. Cole said citizen input would be welcome, the residents of Pocconock trail insisted that they had submitted a petition calling for speed humps and that was their input.
When the prospect of painting lines to make the road appear more narrow, as has been done on Park Street and said to have been effective, residents of Pocconock Trail said they did not want paint on their road.