BRISTOL – Bristol Police Department’s Lt. Matthew Moskowitz addressed the Bristol Police Commission Tuesday evening to discuss a change in policy surrounding speeding complaint investigations in an attempt to increase officer time efficiency.
“Many of the traffic complaints we’ve been receiving in the office have been about speeding in general,” said Moskowitz, also noting there had been a few complaints regarding truck traffic on Chapel Street, Shrub Road, Redstone Hill Road and Burlington Avenue.
The lieutenant noted that when speed radar signs were deployed to some areas which reported complaints to measure speed, the speeds taken on average were hovering around the proper limit and that most were within five mph of the limit.
“This takes several hours for officers to go out and program the speed signs...and hopefully after several days we go and collect the speed signs,” said Moskowitz. “They then download the information and print out a large scale report and analyze that to determine whether there is an (issue)...”
Moskowitz said he’s found that the policing hours being spent to focus on collecting data that may not be revealing negative trends could be spent on “time in the area where we actually have large scale accidents occurring.” He noted that these hours accumulate over the course of a year.
“What I’d like to do going forward,” said the lieutenant. “Looking at each complaint that comes to the office, we’ve devised a way to catalogue those. We’ve got a complaint log now that we’re going to be taking each person’s complaint, looking at whether there were any accidents in the area based on our traffic repository that we have.”
Moskowitz then said officers could look back at certain areas for records of motor vehicle accidents and see if a traffic study had previously been done in the area. They could then make a comparison with previously recorded information from speed radar signs.
“The officers in the unit now know that if we’re taking a speeding complaint, they’re to log it on the complaint log then Sgt. Oulette or myself will evaluate it and look at all the items I’ve just explained and determine, based on each complaint, whether there’s merit to it,” said the lieutenant.
Moskowitz said if officers were receiving several complaints in a specific area, they would respond with more in-person enforcement or come up with a different policy if the latest one was not being effective. Currently, based on data concerning areas of elevated accident numbers, the lieutenant said policing would focus their attention in these target places. He noted it would take time though to see if the latest policy would have an impact on crash numbers.
“I have (officers) coming up with a map to determine where the highest level of accidents we have based on the traffic repository we have access to,” said Moskowitz. “Right now, we have elevated levels of motor vehicle accidents in areas such as Stafford and Route 6. Over the last year, for instance, we had 20 at that one location.”
He also noted that there were 40 accidents over the course of last year near the intersection of Middle Street and Pine Street.
Bristol Mayor Ellen Zoppo-Sassu said that made sense in terms of resources and asked what message should public officials be communicating when people call if there is a perception of a speeding problem in a neighborhood.
“We can’t dismiss concerns but yet we have to somehow communicate that there are standards that are used to look at (traffic issues),” said the mayor.
The lieutenant said that each complaint would be logged and evaluated against the most current data available with the traffic repository’s data and a determination made from that point.
The mayor said she understood and would communicate that with other city officials.