Submitted by Greg Premo, Chief of University Place Police
The most common citizen complaints we get at the University Place Police Department are always about traffic. Although speeding tops the list, we also hear about parking, red light and stop sign violations, distracted driving complaints, loud mufflers, etc.
Traffic safety is?a critical part of every law enforcement agency’s commitment to community safety. But keep in mind that in U.P., our active Patrol operations are responsible for responding to 911 calls while also providing proactive patrols and a police presence in the community. We also need adequate resources to support our Investigations unit so that we can continue to identify suspects, follow-up on leads, present cases for prosecution, etc.
But we have limited resources to accomplish these important tasks. Our patrol officers will address traffic issues as time allows, but we cannot dedicate officers for traffic response only.
Since we do not have dedicated traffic officers, we occasionally conduct speed/traffic emphasis patrols on overtime. We recently ran a traffic emphasis patrol where over the course of 10 three-hour shifts over six weeks, we had an officer dedicated to traffic enforcement. These shifts allowed the assigned officers to focus on traffic issues and not get pulled away to address other routine calls for service. They were, however, available to help with emergency calls as needed.
But a few periodic dedicated shifts are no substitute for earmarked traffic officers. Our ability to enforce existing traffic laws has a widespread impact on our city. It is critical to ensuring everyone—vehicles, pedestrians and bicyclists—can be safe and enjoy the high quality of life we pride ourselves on in U.P.
We are exploring other speed reducing ideas such as school zone speed cameras to help support a community culture of safe driving in our city and will continue to schedule emphasis patrols from time to time. But to really make a sustained impact on traffic issues in our city, it will take dedicated staff.
I’ll be talking about that more in the weeks to come. Stay tuned…and stay safe.