In early February anyone driving through Riverside during the morning and evening rush hours may notice a more visible police presence. On Jan. 16, Police Chief Thomas Weitzel announced that his department would soon begin an effort to crack down on what residents believe to be out-of-town motorists speeding and blowing through stop signs while using the village as a short cut.
Weitzel said the crackdown will be a year-long enforcement/education campaign that’s the result of resident complaints about specific traffic problems on residential streets in Riverside. While the police department has long focused on DUI enforcement along the village’s borders, on First Avenue and Harlem Avenue, this effort will center on Riverside’s interior.
“It’s really resident-driven, because residents believe that Riverside is becoming a community that people are cutting through, and they’d like to see strict enforcement,” Weitzel said. “We’ll get out there and get the message out.”
Riverside has implemented what the police department calls “intensified traffic details” since November 2010, but Weitzel indicated that the 2014 campaign was going to be the department’s most visible, aggressive effort yet.
Police have written more than 660 tickets since November 2010, including 247 tickets written during enforcement blitzes in 2013. Last year, police concentrated on school zones, but also began targeting multiple areas of the village during a single day.
For example, on the afternoon of April 16, 2013, police started at 2:30 p.m. with a sweep of the area around Riverside-Brookfield High School to enforce parking laws. They then moved on to the Central/Hauser school zone at 3:15 p.m. to enforce parking and cellphone laws before heading over to Barrypoint Road at 4 p.m. and to Woodside Road at 5 p.m. to crack down on speeders.
But those details included members of the regular shift (three to four officers) on duty at that time. This year, Riverside police will institute a “wolfpack” strategy. For example, in an area where police are targeting speeders, one officer will be standing outside his squad car, clearly visible, using radar to clock vehicles.
Another five to six officers will be stationed nearby ready to respond if that radar officers identifies a violation.
“The speed enforcement will be very public,” said Weitzel, who added that the details would be preceded by a period of “education” by police, announcing that an enforcement period would be coming soon.
Last week, Weitzel kicked off the first of those “education” periods, saying that an enforcement detail would hit the streets in “two to three weeks.”
That first detail will focus, Weitzel said, on the 100 block of Fairbank Road, which connects on either end to Barrypoint Road. Speeding by people looking for a shortcut is a particular problem on that block, said Weitzel.
“One area we’ll concentrate on immediately is the 100 block of Fairbank and Barrypoint Road,” Weitzel said. “By far that area is number one out of the complaints we get.”
Other hot spots police will target in subsequent details will be the area around Longcommon and Selborne Road, where drivers habitually ignore the stop sign, and the flashing red light on Longcommon at Audubon Road.
“A lot [of the drivers] are non-residents,” said Weitzel. “A majority are individuals cutting through.”