Newtown using extra patrols to catch speeders, phone-users
By Mike Russo STAFF WRITER
Article Last Updated: 03/27/2008 06:35:10 AM EDT
NEWTOWN -- Speeders and traveling cell phone users, beware. Officers are looking for you.
Since February, the police department's traffic division has conducted weekly selective traffic enforcement details throughout town.
Lt. George Sinko, the department's traffic operations supervisor, said the program's dual purpose is to enforce traffic safety and to educate the public.
The enforcement portion of the program target areas that have been the site of motor vehicle accidents or that residents have complained about, he said.
"People have made numerous complaints about speeding and distracted drivers," Sinko said. "People on their cell phones and not paying attention have caused a huge concern for safety."
The selective traffic details were initiated by the Police Commission in January with a $20,000 appropriation of existing funds. They have three or four supervised officers "saturating" an area.
"We are able to target a lot more vehicles that way," Sinko said. "This is producing a lot more visibility. Hopefully, the motorists will get the point before we stop them."
During traffic details at various locations in March, police issued more than 100 tickets or written warnings to motorists for cell phone use, speeding and equipment violations.
Sinko said the education portion of the program involves officers speaking about road safety to students, citizen police academies, and community organizations.
The details are in response to a 2006 study conducted
by the town and an independent survey conducted by the Harrison Group in 2007.
According to the Harrison Group study, titled "The Way Things are in Newtown," fifty-three percent of 852 residents interviewed said they consider traffic congestion an urgent problem and 44 percent think speeding in residential neighborhoods is a major concern.
According to Paul Lundquist, president of the Harrison Group, the data in the survey supports the town taking action on the traffic situation.
"Based on the information, most residents would feel it appropriate for the town to take an aggressive approach," he said.
Contact Mike Russo at email@example.com or at (203) 731-3350.
Newtown police selective traffic enforcement detail by the numbers
March 4 -- Great Hill Road, Taunton Hill Road, Boggs Hill Road, Flat Swamp Road, 6 to 10 a.m.; 17 speeding violations.
March 4 -- Washington Avenue, 2 to 6 p.m.; 27 written warnings for failure to have headlights on during light precipitation, two written warnings for failure to have front license plate.
March 13 -- Berkshire Road, Riverside Road, Main Street, Hawleyville Road; 12 cell phone violations, eight speeding violations, eight equipment violations, two seat belt violations.
March 15 -- Queen Street, Boggs Hill Road, Flat Swamp Road, Main Street; 22 speeding violations, eight cell phone violations, one misdemeanor summons for excessive speed.