SPD cracks down on speeders Print E-mail
Fri, 28 September 2007

By Trista Steers

Larson Newspapers

Speeders beware.

Sedona Police Departmentís traffic unit made 422 stops in three weeks and its getting ready to up the ante.

Speeding is the reason most people are stopped, SPD motor officer Karl Waak said.

By the end of October an additional motor officer will join the hunt for rule-breakers. Currently, the unit consists of one motorcycle officer and one undercover patrol officer.

Between Aug. 19 ó when the program started ó and Sept. 15, Waak and officer John Dexter made 422 stops, wrote 330 citations, 103 warnings and 61 repair orders. The two officers arrested 17 people stopped initially for traffic violations. Four arrests were for DUI.

"Just based on this first month, itís been quite successful," SPD Cmdr. Ron Wheeler said.

Waak and Dexter also assisted with 22 vehicle accidents, most of which were non-injury, according to Waak.

"We average two to three a day that get reported," Waak said.

Waak and Dexter are part of SPDís new Sedona Traffic Education Program, or STEP.

The program aims to educate the public while enforcing traffic laws to reduce the number of traffic violations and accidents in the city.

With two day-patrol officers dedicated solely to watching motorists, Wheeler said SPD can finally address traffic problems all over the city, not just on Hwy. 89A.

SPD received a complaint about traffic on Sunset Drive last week, so the unit checked it out, Wheeler said. Officers made eight stops on the West Sedona side street in an hour, indicating a problem exists.

Wheeler said the unit will be used to monitor different areas and determine where additional enforcement is needed.

Feedback from the community is positive as well, according to Wheeler.

Waak said Sedona residents appreciate the program, even if theyíre getting a ticket.

"They realize there is a problem," Waak said.

Waak patrols city streets starting just before morning rush hour and ending just after the evening rush on weekdays.

"Heís making this thing a huge success," Wheeler said.

Motorists are stopped for all types of traffic violations including running stop signs, lane violations and improper signaling.

Work repair orders are issued for broken windshields, and burned out headlights, taillights and brake lights.

Waak said he also writes many parking violations, particularly for parking in a handicap space without a decal or parking in a fire lane.

SPD sends two more officers to motor patrol school in October and one will join the unit upon completion.

Wheeler said he hopes to increase traffic patrol to seven days a week when the other officer comes on board.