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Too many CHP officers in Felton, reader says
Dear Street Smarts, Q: I was just wondering when you'll do some real investigative reporting and find out why the Bay Area is at saturation point with CHP. Can you find the stats, the number of police cars running every day in Felton, the number of tickets written and the exact reason? Is this information available? Doesn't it strike you as bizarre that in a state that's billions and billions in the red, cuts being made to everything including class sizes increases, etc., that CHP seem to have an unlimited budget to run multiple patrols in Felton on a daily basis, literally? Why Felton? Does every small town in California have this many cops? It feels like a ‘police state.’ I've never seen anything like it! It's not just Felton. On my way to work, I must pass half a dozen everyday. Where is the money coming from to provide this level of police activity? Thanks, Nick Clifford, via email A: “More officers on the road mean fewer traffic collisions,” said Officer Sarah Jackson, spokeswoman for the California Highway Patrol’s Aptos office. And the CHP’s additional attention to Felton comes at the request of residents there, she said. “When they call, they give detailed descriptions of speeders, reckless drivers, and drivers passing school buses with flashing lights,” Jackson said. “These residents give times, dates, and locations of these offenses, and we respond by patrolling these areas to ensure the safety of that community. The same can be said for other communities within our county.” While Jackson cited homeland security issues in not stating how many officers the CHP has on the road, she could talk about the kinds of things officers are encountering in the area. “In May of 2009, CHP officers made eight DUI arrests and wrote 45 speeding citations on Highway 9 and Graham Hill Road,” she said. “During that same month, officers made two DUI arrests and wrote 45 speeding citations on Highway 129 and Highway 152. The statistics for citations are similar as you can see, but the DUI activity in Felton that month was considerably higher.” The CHP is able to follow-through on residents’ concerns thanks to a boost in funding four years ago, Jackson said. “The increased staffing appears to have shown a positive impact on traffic safety and a reduction in the economic impact of traffic collisions and fatalities statewide,” she said. “This was the first time in 40 years we have been granted the ability to add officers to the patrol ranks throughout the state. During the last 40 years, the population of the state has risen, as have the number of motorists on the roadway. “By increasing patrol positions by 540 since 2007, traffic fatalities and injuries have been reduced. (During this time,) 700 fewer people died and 14,000 fewer people were injured on California roadways and unincorporated roads. This translates to billions in savings in the form of wage and productivity losses, medical expenses, administrative expenses, motor vehicle damage, and employers’ uninsured costs. We have managed to save more lives while lowering operational costs to the benefit of Californians.”
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