Police Organizing Tri-Town Traffic Enforcement Unit

By Andrew Gorosko

Police Chief Michael Kehoe said this week he is working with police from two adjacent towns to organize a specialized tri-town traffic unit that would enforce traffic laws, as needed, in each of the three towns.

The squad would be comprised of patrol officers from Newtown, Redding, and Bethel, he said. The three police departments would combine their efforts to address the traffic issues that all three towns face, he said. "We see a lot of good by-product from the effort," he said.

Such a unit might operate three days per month, spending one of those days in each of the three towns to perform targeted traffic enforcement projects.

Such traffic enforcement might focus on speeding, trucking violations, stop sign violations, traffic signal violations, and crosswalk violations.

Newtown Patrol Officer Jeff Silver is a certified commercial truck inspector who may participate in the traffic squad.

Chief Kehoe said he has been planning the tri-town traffic enforcement program with Police Chief Douglas Fuchs of Redding, and with Police Captain Robert Cedergren of Bethel, who is currently filling in for Bethel Police Chief Jeffrey Finch.

Having such a specialized traffic unit would improve the police departments' ability to obtain grant money for traffic enforcement, Chief Kehoe said.

Chief Kehoe told Police Commission members May 1 that the traffic squad would target specific traffic problems in each of the three member towns. The project is still in the formative stages, he said.

Of the three towns, Newtown is the largest in both area and population at approximately 60 square miles with more than 27,000 residents. Bethel covers about 17 square miles and has almost 19,000 residents. Redding covers about 32 square miles and has more than 8,650 residents.

The land area of the three towns is contiguous. Newtown's southwest corner, in the vicinity of Poverty Hollow Road, borders Redding. Bethel abuts most of Newtown's western boundary.

During recent public meetings, Newtown police officials have heard continuing calls for increased traffic enforcement to apprehend violators. Complaints have focused on speeding, reckless driving, and violations of traffic signals and stop signs.

Police Commission members plan to conduct a June 5 session to hear a traffic consultant's report on steps that can be taken to improve traffic conditions in the town center. (See related story.)