New traffic officer targets speeders starting today
Monday, March 05, 2007
By Martin Visser
Chronicle correspondent

Drivers who put the pedal to the metal are likely to encounter a new face in their rear-view mirror out in Grand Haven Township.

Deputy Mike Veldkamp will be taking over as the township's first traffic services officer beginning today, Ottawa County Sheriff Gary Rosema said.

Veldkamp previously served as the Grand Haven High School community policing officer. That job will be assumed by Deputy Sara Adams.

Veldkamp will be involved in a variety of traffic issues, but his primary duty will be speed zone enforcement.

"There are a few areas I'll probably be highly visible in to start. Primarily school zone enforcement between Rosy Mound and Peach Plains (elementary school) and out front of the (Grand Haven) high school," he said.

"I'll also be looking at the most dangerous intersections in the township."

The new position took shape last November when voters approved a half- mill tax increase to pay for the township's three person community oriented police service (COPS) program. As part of the tax, the township agreed to add a fourth officer to focus primarily on speed zone enforcement, education and other traffic-related issues.

A new cruiser the deputy will use for patrols is mostly black -- instead of black and white -- and does not have "roller" lights on top. The goal is to make it less conspicuous during speed enforcement.

"Traffic enforcement continues to be a main priority anywhere you go in the county with the growth we continue to see," Rosema said.

Supervisor Joann Marcetti said traffic concerns have become an issue.

"What really brought this about was the number of concerns being raised by people who said, 'My road is becoming unsafe.' We looked at the number of calls and found our present COPS officers simply weren't going to be able to respond to all the calls in traffic enforcement and we would not have the manpower to engage in any educational things," she said.

Marcetti expects much enforcement to focus on Lakeshore Drive, Mercury Drive, Comstock Road and Ferris Street as well as several intersections with high accident rates.

"It's been one of my goals in my career to get involved in the traffic aspect. It's something that has really intrigued me and I'm looking forward to this move," Veldkamp said.

Adams previously worked as a COPS officer in the Marne area for six years and prior to that was liaison officer for Zeeland Public Schools.