The LAPD’s Northeast Division is redeploying more officers to traffic enforcement, which means motorists – as well as pedestrians and cyclists – will be under greater scrutiny in the months ahead.
Five officers from the Northeast Division, which stretches from Echo Park and Silver Lake to Eagle Rock and Highland Park, will be shifted into traffic enforcement as part of a department effort to improve traffic safety, according to Northeast Division Capt. Jeffrey Bert. Those additional and existing traffic officers will be focused on dangerous driver behavior, such as speeding, driving while using mobile phones and unsafe left turns. But, Bert adds, officers will also be warning, as well as citing, pedestrians and cyclists. “The reality is that when people get cited, it does modify their behavior more than a warning,” Bert said.
In 2013*, eight persons died and 27 suffered severe injuries in more than 2,100 traffic collisions reported in the Northeast Division, according to LAPD figures. While there was a decline in overall collisions compared to 2012, Bert notes that about half of those collisions involved hit-and-run drivers. That’s a much higher proportion than in the neighboring Hollenbeck and Rampart divisions. There was also a slight increase in the number of collisions – 140 vs. 145 – involving cyclists, he said.
In addition to tickets and warnings, Bert said his division will increase attention to speeding on side streets in areas where bike lanes have been added and traffic lanes removed.
The shift in officers from traditional crime fighting to traffic enforcement will not reduce overall public safety, he said. In fact, the result will increase the LAPD’s presence on the streets, he said.
Bert said the department will evaluate the redeployment in about six months but he expects the shift maybe a welcome, long-term change. “My gut feeling is that its not going away.”
* The 2013 statistics provided by the Northeast Division cover the period from Jan. 1, 2013 to Dec. 28, 2013