By John Burton
RED BANK – “I’ve seen an uptick,” with the issuing of moving traffic violations and warnings in recent months, said Police Chief Darren McConnell.
In part, the increase of stops and summonses for the department is due to adding two part-time Class 2 special police officers hired earlier this fall, whose primary responsibility is traffic safety and enforcement. The inclusion of the two officers has also freed up full-time officers somewhat, which in turn has allowed those officers to contribute to some of the additional enforcement. Traditionally, when there are manpower cuts, traffic enforcement is one discretionary area that usually takes a hit (another tends to be D.A.R.E., a youth drug abuse prevention program).
“That’s police departments all over the state, not just Red Bank,” McConnell said.
Traditionally, summonses issued tend to run between 400-450 for October. Anecdotally, the number the department has had for last month is about 600 and McConnell expects the November numbers to be roughly 500, a modest spike over last year.
The Red Bank Police, under McConnell has made traffic/pedestrian safety a priority as much as staffing permits. The department is one of the stakeholders in “Crossroads” a Two River Times’ sponsored initiative to improve pedestrian/ cyclist/motorist safety in the Two River area. Along with law enforcement, the public service initiative has members of the business and education communities as well as the participation of elected state, county, local elected officials as well as benefitting from the input of the Monmouth County engineering department. Stakeholders have helped institute changes and continue to look at ways to make the road ways safer for everyone who uses them.
In a public forum conducted in September, Hudson Avenue residents had expressed concern about speeders in their neighborhood. In response, police have conducted traffic counts and increased enforcement on Hudson. Many times, speeding fears from homeowners turns out to be a perception issue.
“On Hudson it was a problem,” McConnell acknowledged. Officers found drivers speeding – but most of them doing maybe just a five, six-, or seven-miles per hour over the street’s 25 mph limit. Those slight infractions would likely warrant merely a warning from officers. But the sight of an officer with a vehicle pulled over has a very real deterrent effect, McConnell believes. And having it happen on some of the borough’s busiest streets, where there have been the most traffic incidents – Broad Street, Shrewsbury Avenue, Newman Springs Road, to name a few – has real value. “It has to have an impact, people seeing officers out there,” he said.
Borough officials, with police and resident input, are considering engineering long-term improvements on Hudson, according to McConnell.
Police have stepped up enforcement for a number of other residential streets, too, to address this type of quality-of-life concerns, the chief noted.
The number of summonses are up and vehicular and foot traffic are expected to increase in the community during the busy holiday sea son. But McConnell suspects that number could drop as officers tend to be inclined to cut harried drivers and busy shoppers a break during the season. However, police will beef up drunk driving stops this time of year.
But the added officers, who have to be reappointed annually, are expected to continue as a cost effective measure. And that means traffic stops are expected to continue at the current level, McConnell said.
“Overall, I think we’re doing good,” on this front, he said. “But there’s certainly room for improvement.”
More Crossroads Coverage in The Two River Times
- Major Safety Improvements in Red Bank
- Thank You For Crossroads Forum
- Crossroads Forum Moves Problems Toward Solutions
- Pedestrian Safety Forum Monday
- Cyclist Hit In Sea Bright
- Yes Another Pedestrian Close Call in Red Bank
- Penalties Must Be Stiffer For Leaving Scene and Inattentive Driving
- Bike Paths Are Rolling Forward
- Progress In Pedestrian/Cyclist Safety
- Pedestrian Dies Following Accident
- 78-year-old Pedestrian Struck on Broad Street in Red Bank
- Red Bank Streets Feared by Residents, Motorists
- Broad Street Pedestrian Accident Prompts Intensive Investigation
- Bicycle Lanes at Standstill As Two River Mayors and County Fail to Agree
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