This January will mark my 30th year in law enforcement. As you can imagine, much has changed over the years. My first patrol car had a four channel police radio and a shotgun. Other than the decals on the side and the lights on top, it was a basic four-door passenger vehicle. Today, our patrol cars have computers, radar, radio systems allowing us to communicate throughout the entire region, fingerprint readers, multiple weapons platforms, and the list goes on and on.
While much has changed, some things have not changed at all. During one of my first tours in patrol, I was assigned to a contract City within the Sheriff’s Office. We constantly received complaints of speeding cars, reckless driving, and unsafe practices on our roads. At that time, my supervisors directed all officers to increase our efforts with respect to enforcement (write more cites). I found it ironic, I would stop cars in neighborhoods, inevitably the violator would say “I called about everybody else’s driving, I didn’t want you to stop me.” My experience tells me, most neighborhood traffic issues are a result of residents who live in the area speeding in their own neighborhood.
Today, as your Chief of Police, the most common complaints I receive center around traffic matters. You guessed it, speeding cars, reckless driving, and unsafe practices on our roads. Many of those complaints are generated from neighborhoods.
In response, we are planning a new program, “SLOW DOWN Oakley!” There are two major components to the program: education and enforcement. The educational pieces are things like this article, other press releases, our traffic advisory trailers, and message trailers. All are designed to remind you to think about your driving habits and hopefully get you to slow down.
The second component, enforcement, is fairly obvious. I have directed the officers to enhance their efforts with respect to traffic enforcement. This includes randomly relieving some staff of their patrol duties and assigning them to focus solely on traffic enforcement. This is not a decision I take lightly. Again, my experience is that many of our own residents may receive citations. Please be aware, most officers hate giving tickets, particularly to their own residents. I remind them often, “you can write cites or you can write accident reports, but you will end up writing something”. Enforcement, as unpleasant as it is for all involved, saves lives.
Earlier this month, the City Council approved the expansion of the Police Department by four positions. My intent is to use one of those positions to augment our traffic enforcement unit. In the coming months, we will have a third motorcycle officer on the street.
I know I speak for all the officers in Oakley, thank you for your continued support! I invite you to be our partner as we work to make Oakley a safer place to live, work and play. Please, SLOW DOWN Oakley!