Cops say selectivity key in traffic enforcement

June 5, 2008 - 11:31AM
With 180 miles of city streets to cover, Jacksonville police say they have to be selective in their traffic enforcement.
"We send patrol officers to the areas where they can do the most good," said Sean Magill, a sergeant in the Jacksonville Police Department's traffic division.
Police Chief Mike Yaniero said the goal of selective enforcement was not just writing tickets.
"We want to reduce crashes and ultimately save lives," he said.
Crash data suggests motorists are more likely to be involved in a traffic accident on certain streets and at certain intersections in the city, police said.
Those percentages change from month to month, and the traffic division adjusts accordingly. Each month, a new list of selective traffic enforcement areas are distributed to patrol officers.
The areas where the Police Department's traffic division concentrates its focus have the most potential for accidents or receive the most citizen complaints, Magill said.
"Citizen feedback indicates that members of the public do not believe much enforcement is done on the bypass during the weekends and it is easier to get away with driving at higher speeds," according to a May 2008 selective traffic enforcement memo.
As a result, more patrol units spent more time on the N.C. 24 bypass, Magill said.
Areas with a higher number of traffic collisions in the previous month are added to the list and police patrol those areas more often, Magill said.
"It is not all major streets," he said. "There are some residential areas people try to use for short cuts."
When complaints from residents on side streets add up, police patrol the area more often.
Other situations require special attention as well. Two years ago, the city changed a section of East Drive into a one-way street. Although the street was clearly marked as one-way and sufficient notice had been made in the community, drivers still tried to travel the wrong way. The street remained on the selective traffic enforcement list until motorists eventually stopped driving the wrong way, Magill said.
A March selective traffic enforcement memo listed Henderson Drive as a special interest road.
"Continuous, strong enforcement is needed in the school zones during school hours when speed limit is reduced, especially Henderson Drive in front of Jacksonville High School in the afternoon and Bell Fork Road in the a.m. hours," the memo read.
Jacksonville resident Jody Sparks lives on Henderson Drive near Northwoods Elementary School. Henderson Drive is frequently targeted by police for traffic enforcement, and Sparks said she is happy about it.
"I like seeing the extra cop cars," she said. "Especially with the school nearby, people should slow down through here, but they don't."
Sparks said she feels the extra patrols on Henderson have cut down on accidents.
Other areas recently targeted by the Selective Traffic Enforcement Program include:
Marine Boulevard
Western Boulevard Lejuene Boulevard
New Bridge Street
Sioux Drive
Country Club Road
Doris Avenue

Contact crime reporter Lindell Kay at or 910-554-8534. Read Lindell's blog at Off the Cuff - with Lindell Kay.