‘You’ll notice it’: Police stepping up traffic enforcement

With the booming nature of tourism in Moab, and a general increase in the traffic this region is seeing, Moab City Police Department is setting a course toward increased enforcement of traffic laws on U.S. Route 191 and on surface side streets within city limits.

The push for greater enforcement, according to Moab City Police Chief Jim Winder, will be led by officer Rick Allred and will focus specifically on 300 South, 500 West, 400 East and other main thoroughfares — though Allred and other officers increased their patrols on all streets beginning last week.

“You’ll notice it … you will definitely notice an increase in our traffic enforcement,” Winder said. “I hope what they notice more are the results of the enforcement. Traffic always engenders many feelings because there are those that think traffic enforcement is solely a function of revenue generation and is meant to inflict punishment on the general public. I think people need to understand that traffic is the issue we receive the most complaints on. If you live in a neighborhood and people are speeding by your home, it feels to you like you are unsafe, and your children are unsafe. Many people call us and ask us why we are not doing traffic enforcement, which has been a legitimate concern.”

The reason for a lack of enforcement in recent months, according to Winder, has been a shortage of police officers in the City of Moab. That shortage is one Winder promised to address at the start of the year. Now, Winder adds that he has a full cadre of officers sworn to protect the peace in Moab.

“Our staffing levels were, at one point, so low that we had to ensure individual officers were available for emergency response,” Winder added. “Often we had just one officer on shift and they were working 12-hour days. To go out and do traffic enforcement at that time was not the best use of our resources. We can now do proactive law enforcement, which means not just traffic but looking for drug dealers, searching out illegal campers, watching for jaywalkers. These are public safety issues. So, we will be looking for speeders and people running red lights now, along with exhibition driving. This is a police department trying to get back into the business of being positive in our community and proactive with enforcement.”

Winder said traffic on U.S. Route 191, from 400 East in downtown and north to the Colorado River, is the biggest challenge his department faces in terms of enforcement.

“I sit down there and watch heavy trucks, sometimes two or three, roll through red lights, and I watch cars that are behind these trucks not see the red light and almost run into pedestrians,” Winder said. “We also see people do illegal left turns that almost cause collisions, and we see bicyclists that are in constant danger there. We just can’t have that anymore.”

Winder added that Allred is a good choice to lead the traffic division and will be receiving additional training in traffic accident investigation.

“[Allred] is the officer we have chosen for this position and we have done so for several reasons,” Winder said. “A lot of people might see him in his black uniform and driving an unmarked cruiser and be intimidated, but we know empirically that when people see a marked vehicle with a light bar that, although people slow down, longer-term issues are solved with an unmarked car. Even with all that, he is not a ‘black car, tinted-window’ kind of guy. He is very light-hearted, very community-oriented and has lived here his whole life. He has all the attributes I think are going to help keep the public safe on our roads.”

ByBy Greg Knight

The Times-Independent