Cops' focus on speeders results in more tickets

Published: August 1, 2007

By Sean C. Morgan

Of The New Era

Watch your speed.

Sweet Home police officers have been committing any free time they have to traffic patrol in recent weeks and it's costing scofflaws.

As of Friday afternoon, Sweet Home officers had issued 141 traffic citations in July. The citations were not limited to speeding, including infractions like driving while suspended and driving uninsured.

By comparison, Sweet Home officers wrote only 65 tickets total in June and 42 in all of July last year. All last year, officers issued approximately 815 citations, an average of 69.9 tickets per month.

"The call load's running just a little ahead of last year but behind 2005 when we took the spike (breaking 9,000 calls for the year for the first time)," Police Chief Bob Burford said. The number of calls has slowed down in the past 30 days, and as of midyear the department was running only 24 hours ahead of last year's call load.

With the slowdown, "several officers on different shifts are finding time to focus a little bit on traffic," Burford said.

They're focusing on geographic areas and on specific issues where the department has had complaints, Burford said. Geographically, they've generally been working Main and Long streets, but police are also discussing working some of the residential arterials, such as Elm Street, where speed tends to get higher than it should.

"As long as the criminal calls stay down where we can get a breath, we'll fill that time void with traffic enforcement," Burford said.

Next weekend, police will run a targeted driving-under-the-influence enforcement campaign, Burford said.

"We know during Jamboree, there are a lot of intoxicated drivers out there," he said.

Because of local commitments inside and out of the Jamboree and the surge in calls that comes with an extra 6,000 or more people in town for the weekend, Burford said, Sweet Home will get an assist throughout the area from Oregon State Police, Linn County Sheriff's Office and Lebanon Police Department.