Wednesday, August 11, 2010
IT IS TIME FOR REAL TRAFFIC ENFORCEMENT IN HARTFORD
Pictured above, 4 Year old Lillany Rodriguez, killed by an out of control driver at Main and Belden Streets yesterday
Traffic laws, speeding, red lights, stop signs, improper passing, not to mention proper registrations and insurance are all pretty much ignored by many within Hartford's City limits. The reason? Your chances of getting stopped and cited are almost non-existent unless the offending vehicle is wrecked and can't move and the driver doesn't run away.
A tragic example of this occurred last night at Main Street and Belden Street. A vehicle being operated by a driver apparently high on drugs, possibly PCP, was headed south on Main Streets at speeds that some estimated approached 100 miles and hour. The driver rear-ended another vehicle in which 4 year old Lillany Rodriguez was a passenger. Lillany initially survived the accident and was resuscitated by the Hartford Fire Department but died of her injuries this afternoon.
Hartford's streets are a nightmare, and I fully understand the staffing problems with the Hartford Police Departments limited resources. With that being said, it is time for a Traffic Unit at the Hartford Police Department that actually enforces traffic laws.
Forget the parking issues and tagging scofflaws. Let the Parking Authority take care of that. Forget the abandoned cars. The Health Department tows them from private property now, let them handle the streets also. Forget tagging and towing cars from side streets in the Westend during the morning rush hour. Again, let the Parking Authority handle that. If it is a matter of assigning responsibility to these agencies, have the Council deal with it.
If a decision needs to be made as to towing a parking violator from Willard Street at 8:00am or taking a dangerous driver off the road, the choice seems simple. If a choice needs to be made over tagging a parking scofflaw on Washington Street or saving the life of another 4 year old from an out of control driver, the choice seems simple.
An aggressive traffic enforcement program needs to be initiated immediately to protect the conscientious drivers who actually register their cars, insure their vehicles and pay attention to our motor vehicle laws. Have you ever noticed the difference with which many drivers act when they exit the city at the Windsor, Wethersfield, Bloomfield or West Hartford borders. The stereos get turned down, the speed drops and the traffic laws seem to be obeyed.
Why is that? Because they know the suburban Police Departments have a lot more time for ticket writing and the odds increase drastically that poor driving will grab the attention of a suburban police officer.
I know a lot of the cell phone and distracted driver "campaigns" are the result of Federal Grants, but they seem to obtain results, both with drivers and the media. It's time the Hartford Police Department start something like that on their own.
We had no problem asking for help from the State whenever we needed Troopers to combat crime. Maybe it would make sense to ask for their help with some traffic enforcement, that is their specialty. And while we are at it, ask for a few Motor Vehicle Inspectors for good measure. It would send a strong message quickly and it might save the life of the next four year old that could potentially be the victim of an unchecked, out of control driver.
Last week after the tragic events at Hartford Distributors in Manchester, the Town of Manchester relied heavily on HPD resources. Hartford's SWAT team members and an armored vehicle were sent to Manchester almost immediately. HPD's Bomb Squad was also sent when questions arose about the shooters vehicle and whether it might be rigged with explosives. Several HPD Patrol Officers and Supervisors and cruisers were sent to Manchester to answer calls for service from Manchester residents. Manchester's resources were stretched so thin that Hartford was called upon to help out.
I for one would have no problem asking the City Administration to ask for some help in return from these towns we always step up to help when they ask us. It is the perfect example to move toward some regionalization efforts. Maybe one weekend night a month cover areas of the city with traffic enforcement.
I'm sure the efforts would not only yield traffic violators, but more serious offenders with weapons, drugs and even individuals wanted for other offenses.
In the meantime, Hartford PD's Traffic Units should be focusing on getting the message out that there is traffic enforcement in Hartford, and not just for double parking in front of Starbuck's during the morning rush hour.