Traffic enforcement could get criminals off streets - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Traffic enforcement could get criminals off streets

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January 17, 2007

Albany - When Albany Police begin implementing recommendations from a study done on the department, one area they may make changes in is traffic--how to reduce crashes at dangerous intersections and how to better protect the public and officers during chases.

One of most dangerous intersections in the city of Albany is at Nottingham Road and Westover Boulevard. More crashes occurred there last year, than at any other intersection. "Consistent, aggressive traffic enforcement reduces crashes."

In a study done by Police and Associates, one recommendation for APD is to develop a plan that will reduce those crashes. Michele DeMott of Safe Communities says officers can do that in congested areas like this.

She says, "When you have more vehicles in proximity, they're certainly more likely to run into one another, people get tired, they don't want to have to sit through a red light. The more congestion you have, the longer the lights are."

And the benefit of stopping more drivers breaking the law is often two-fold. DeMott says, "It's interesting to see that when law enforcement has a strong presence, people that they are pulling over for traffic infractions sometimes turn out to be persons with warrants out or wants out, suspended licenses and you wind up picking up criminal elements in that."

Another area APD may work on is the chase policy. Currently, officers are allowed to use stop sticks, but don't carry them in their units.

Sgt. Scott Woodell of the State Patrol says the sticks are one of the safest ways to end a pursuit. He says, "The hardest part is the actual deployment of the stop sticks." And that's why officers need extensive training on how to use them.

"Anything that you're going to do as far as pursuits, you've got to do extensive training on it," says Woodell, "because of the fact that there's a threat to the public in any pursuit."

That's why Woodell thinks it's great that APD will consider establishing its own academy. He says, "They can completely stress what Albany PD's mission is and what their goals are and what their vision for the future is. All that's isolated and instilled in that academy so you have cadets or you have trainees with Albany's best interests in mind, so I think it's a great idea."

Keeping everyone in Albany, just a little bit safer. Michele DeMott says 18% of traffic crashes that take place at the 10 most dangerous intersections are the result of drivers running red-lights.    

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