Tuesday, September 30, 2008

City Announces Expanded Traffic Enforcement Unit

Speeders Beware, New Haven Independent, 9/30/08

Police Chief James Lewis said he created the squad in response to neighborhood outcry over abused traffic laws.

“If you lose a loved one in a traffic accident, it’s just the same as if you lose a loved one in a homicide,” Lewis said.

The squad plans to use tips from neighbors to guide where it will use its resources, Sydnor said. Neighbors are encouraged to report dangerous driving, illegal dirt bikes or other non-emergency traffic complaints at the city traffic safety hotline at 946-6956. Tips can also be sent to
this email address, or reported on SeeClickFix.

Police have gotten over 200 traffic tips since launching the hotline in early July, said Lt. Joe Witkowski, second-in-command of the city’s patrol unit. Callers can leave anonymous messages reporting the plate number of anyone seen driving dangerously. From those complaints, the city has sent out 50 postcards warning drivers to obey the law, and advising them, “People are watching you,” Witkowski said. Police said they plan to expand the enforcement unit when new recruits hit the streets early next year. Sydnor didn’t have a firm number on how many officers would be added.

New Haven Adds Traffic Officers, NBC30-TV, 9/30/08

NEW HAVEN, Conn. -- New Haven police are increasing traffic enforcement in the hopes of cutting down on serious crashes. New Haven police are adding to its staff of eight to 10 officer to enforce traffic regulations and target problem spots. How many officers will be added is not known.

Sgt. David Sydnor, who will lead the unit, said he wants to change the habits of the drivers by strictly enforcing motor vehicle laws. Police will look for people who drive too fast, run red lights and fail to stop for pedestrians. The additions to the unit come after several serious crashes including one on Longwharf in August where a drag racing spectator was hit and killed. Residents who have attended town hall meetings recently requested that police do more to keep all streets safe.

"It's our position that if you lose a loved one in a traffic accident, really it's just as traumatic as if you lose a loved one in a crime of violence like a shooting," Chief James Lewis said.

The expanded unit will shift into gear next week.

Narcotics Unit Revived, Yale Daily News, 10/1/08

Lewis also announced Tuesday the creation of a traffic enforcement unit to be led by Sgt. David Sydnor. The unit, which will initially consist of eight to 10 officers, will attempt to combat problems such as speeding, driving through red lights and pedestrian violations. Sydnor said he hopes to expand his team once the new class of academy recruits arrive in early 2009.

The NHPD’s new traffic unit comes on the heels of the Yale Police Department’s recent traffic and pedestrian safety initiatives, including, most notably, the written warnings issued to students who jaywalk on the streets of New Haven.

Sydnor said there were no specific areas or hotspots being targeted by his unit. Rather, he said, traffic enforcement has truly become a citywide issue. Collecting and analyzing data will help the unit focus on what areas to target, Sydnor said. But for Sydnor, the fight for stricter traffic enforcement is a personal one. In 2006, his nephew survived a brutal car accident that led to two other fatalities.

“Whether it’s a homicide or a motor-vehicle accident, it doesn’t matter,” Sydnor said. “There’s no difference.”

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