04/14/14 — Officers set their sights on speeders

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Officers set their sights on speeders

By John Joyce
Published in News on April 14, 2014 1:46 PM

Slow down.

That is the message Goldsboro police are sending to drivers with Operation: Safe Speeds, an initiative designed to catch speeders and to reduce collisions along the city's most congested arteries.

Officials have not said when the increased patrols will start, but did reveal where the crackdowns will take place.

"We are going to concentrate our efforts where the heaviest traffic is -- that is going to be East Ash Street, North Berkeley Boulevard, Wayne Memorial Drive and North Spence Avenue," Specialized Traffic Enforcement Unit Senior Officer Jay Holland said.

The unit, which is led by Maj. Mike West and Sgt. Joshua Stine, consists of four specially trained traffic enforcement officers, each equipped with two kinds of radar, who will be working around the clock for an unspecified period of time to slow things down in the city.

Speeders can expect anything from a verbal to a written warning, to an actual citation, Holland said.

"We're stepping up our efforts so we don't have to write citations," Holland said.

There are no quotas. And the reason for the initiative has nothing to do with the city budget. There are no revenue issues the city faces that will be solved by writing more tickets, Holland added.

The efforts to stop speeding are instead meant to reduce traffic crashes and injuries, the officer said.

"We've got an influx of businesses, we've got more traffic than we have ever had, and we've just got to keep speeds down to protect people and property," he said.

The members of the Specialized Traffic Enforcement Unit are trained to use their judgment to spot potential violations. State-of-the-art tracking equipment then helps them confirm that a driver is indeed ignoring the speed limit.

The MPH Enforcer Traffic Radar system has both forward and rear facing capabilities to catch speeders coming and going. The dash mounted display reads the speeds of passing cars as well as that of the police cruiser.

Using a handheld remote, the officer clocks the speed, locks it in, then hits the lights and makes the traffic stop.

"I always ask if they want to see the radar," Holland said.

Even those drivers who initially deny speeding tend to confess when confronted with the option to see for themselves, he said.

Most traffic stops end with a handshake and a "thank you" from the driver, he said.

"Just our presence with the car, with the blue lights, and standing there on the side of the road (slows) things down," Holland said.

There is no "safe speed" and no built-in cushion.

Anything over the posted speed limit is, by North Carolina's absolute speed law, a citable offense.

If the sight of the police cars alone isn't enough, or the officers sticking their hands out the window gesturing to motorists to "slow it down," an officer standing on the side of the road with the hand-held Light Detection and Ranging, or LIDAR, gun, ought to do it.

The radar gun, as it is commonly referred to, is good up to a thousand yards. The laser beam locks on the front of the moving vehicle and reports both its speed and distance.

An officer standing by the roadside gunning passing motorists can easily dispatch a cruiser waiting nearby to catch up to and to stop the speeding car.

Operation: Safe Speeds will commence within the next week or two. Weeks of speed detection and complaint-driven investigations have determined where the highest concentration of speeders seem to be.

After an unspecified period of the heavy ticketing campaign, another round of data collection will follow.

"Speed is a factor in most crashes. I hope that after seeing us out there that (drivers) take the initiative theirself and slow down. This is a problem, and we're hoping we can deter it," Holland said.