Beaverton Police Department Traffic Safety Team

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1 Traffic Safety Team November 1, 2010

2 Executive Summary The Beaverton Police Department takes pride in the distinction as being one of the safest cities in the northwest. Being a safe city is more than having a low crime rate. The safety of our citizens and those travelling through Beaverton is amongst the highest of priorities in the City of Beaverton. More lives are lost in traffic accidents locally and nationally than to victims of crime. Traffic safety experts cite Education, Enforcement and Engineering as the three E s to keeping a community safe, related to traffic casualties. The Beaverton Police Department can clearly have an impact through the education and enforcement components. Ninety-three percent of traffic accidents are related to driver errors alone. Our police department has an excellent Traffic Safety Team but the growth of this team has not kept pace with the growth of the department and the growth of the city and surrounding metropolitan areas. With the assistance of the Court Administration and Engineering, the Traffic Safety Team has prepared a proposal, for your consideration that will discuss the current problem, growth patterns and provide suggested solutions to address some of these issues followed by an action plan. This proposal includes many components on traffic safety related issues. Portions of the proposed recommendations will have a direct impact on the Municipal Court staffing. Solutions to these impacts are also addressed and will also have a positive impact on the Court Audit which was conducted in April of 2010 (which is not discussed in this proposal). We would like to highlight that this proposal is revenue-neutral and will result in no cost to the City. We appreciate your consideration. Respectfully submitted, Geoff Spalding Chief of Police

3 Introduction During a given three-day time period nationwide, 300 to 400 people die and 19,000 are injured in an estimated 16,000 crashes. Traffic crashes are the leading cause of death of people between the ages of 3 and 34; one third of these deaths will be caused by a drunk driver and excessive speed will be a factor in more than 12,000 of them. For emergency responders, traffic crashes kill more than one police officer a week and between 20 and 25 percent of all firefighter deaths are caused by motor vehicle collisions (International Association of Chiefs of Police). From 2000 to 2009, the Beaverton Police Department s Traffic Safety Team investigated 40 crashes that resulted in the loss of lives of 47 individuals. During the same 10 year time period, the Beaverton Police Department investigated 13 homicides. As the population of the City of Beaverton continues its growth, as well as the population base of the metro area, additional traffic officers are needed so the Department can address current and future traffic safety concerns. According to Early M. Sweeney, Chair of the International Association of Chiefs of Police Highway Safety Committee, The only strategy that consistently is proven to reduce deaths, injuries, and property damage due to crashes is proactive, consistent enforcement of traffic laws. Traffic enforcement is not an annoyance it is a necessity and a lifesaving tool. This proposal will address current and future traffic safety concerns faced by residents and those who commute within the city limits by increasing the size of the Traffic Safety Team by two traffic officers and one Traffic Lieutenant. Beaverton Police Department Page 2

4 Current Traffic Safety Team and Duties In 1995, the Traffic Safety Team of the Beaverton Police Department was a six member unit consisting of one sergeant, two motor officers and three traffic cars. Over the course of the next 15 years, the Traffic Safety Team added two motor officers for a 2010 staffing level of eight officers. Currently, the Traffic Safety Team strives to maintain its traffic safety and education efforts while faced with the actual and projected growth for the City of Beaverton. During the same time period of 1995 through 2009, the Department increased from 82 to 133 sworn officers, a 62 percent increase. The Department s Traffic Safety Team consists of officers dedicated to traffic safety enforcement and education. These officers play key roles in DUII and drug recognition enforcement and training. The Traffic Safety Team also coordinates state and federal grants that are dedicated for DUII enforcement. This coordination has been a contributing factor in a department-wide average of 665 DUII arrests per year over the past five years. The Traffic Safety Team is a regular participant in Multi-Agency Traffic Team (MATT) traffic enforcement details that rotate through the various participating jurisdictions within Washington County. MATT details target specific traffic safety concerns such as aggressive driving, DUII enforcement, speeding and crosswalk safety. Members of the Traffic Safety Team also address citizen traffic complaints received through the traffic and aggressive driving hotline or respond directly to complaints received by the offices of the Mayor and Chief of Police. Over the past four years, traffic officers have addressed over 1,200 specific traffic complaints made by citizens of Beaverton. Members of the Traffic Safety Team also provide assistance to the Department s Criminal Investigations Division and the Washington County Major Crimes Unit. The specialized training maintained by Traffic Safety Team members plays a key role in major criminal investigations; especially in the area of diagramming crime scenes. The Traffic Safety Team plans and staffs the majority of traffic control efforts associated with special events such as the Beaverton Parade. Many events within the City require significant planning and dedication of resources to ensure the safety of participants and the Traffic Safety Team takes a primary role in making sure these events are successful. As part of the Department s efforts to investigate and ultimately reduce the number of serious injury and fatal crashes, selected members of the Traffic Safety Team receive specialized training in accident investigation and reconstruction. Upon completing a series of specialized training courses, the officers become members of the multi-agency Crash Analysis Reconstruction Team (CART). These officers conduct serious injury and fatal investigations on crashes within the City limits when CART cannot respond or the nature of the crash does not meet CART criteria. This level Beaverton Police Department Page 3

5 of expertise enables the BPD Traffic Safety Team to investigate serious injury or fatality crashes where criminal charges would not be appropriate; however the crash poses a significant level of civil liability. Examples of a serious injury or a fatal investigation in this category include crashes where a flaw in roadway design or construction is alleged and would pose a significant civil liability to a private or government entity. In 2006, the Traffic Safety Team started conducting annual reviews of fatal crash investigations which provide an overview of the fatal crash events. These reviews also identify fatal crash trends and make comparisons to prior years. The Traffic Safety Team uses this information in an effort to understand where resources should be dedicated in order to decrease crash numbers and severity overall. The Traffic Safety Team continues to focus on four widely documented and accepted factors that cause serious injuries and fatalities as a result of vehicle crashes: Speeding Failing to stop for red lights DUII Aggressive/Erratic driving behavior Changing Traffic Conditions The 2020 Transportation Plan, currently adopted in the City s Comprehensive Plan, responds to area-wide growth. The planning area accommodates approximately 22,000 additional households and approximately 53,000 new employees over the next 20 years; 47 percent and 69 percent increases respectively over the 1994 base year household and employment figures. As the Transportation Plan indicates, with continued population and employment growth, residents will see increases in travel time and decreases in reliability that will affect transit, freight, bicycle, and pedestrian travel and safety. These factors, along with land use changes, and increased density paired with limited funds to improve the transportation system will also result in travel time and volume increases, and reliability and mobility decreases. The increases in trips, volumes, and travel time will increase conflicts, excessive queuing through intersections, the number of crashes, crash severity, and aggressive driver behavior with associated costs to society, economic vitality, and livability. Safety, reliability, mobility, and use of the street system will be negatively impacted. The duration of congestion is also likely to increase during peak hours, already evident, and the additional demand on the street system that is already at or nearing capacity during the current peak morning and evening commuting periods. Specific deficiencies include lack of connectivity, lack of intersection turning capacity, and traffic queues extending through intersections. These deficiencies increase the delays by Beaverton Police Department Page 4

6 blocking adjacent traffic so that only limited numbers of vehicles are able to travel through the intersection while the signal is green. Such traffic conditions can result in the increase of driver frustration, risk-taking and resultant crashes. According to the City of Beaverton Transportation Office, such overall degradation of system safety provides a clear nexus to the increased need for more traffic enforcement and additional FTEs. More traffic, queuing through intersections, and increased travel time create more traffic conflicts and can result in more aggressive driving behavior, which in turn may create more hazardous driving conditions, and more crashes resulting in more secondary crash potential and delays. Traffic delay is also an economic issue with a cost of its own. Research literature addressing the prevention and reduction of road accidents commonly refers to the three E s to keeping a community safe, related to traffic casualties Environment/Engineering solutions, Education and Enforcement. By increasing traffic enforcement and education efforts, we can have a positive impact in helping to discourage poor driving behaviors, (e.g., aggressive driving), prevent crashes, and improve traffic flow issues. Additional Traffic Safety Team Members As the City of Beaverton continues to grow, additional traffic officers are needed now and in the future to keep our citizens safe. The Beaverton Police Department is requesting the addition of three officers to the Traffic Safety Team; two traffic officers and one Traffic Lieutenant. Additional traffic officers would allow the Department to expand the coverage of the Traffic Safety Team; thus increasing the level of enforcement, education and visibility. Increasing the staffing level would also allow the Beaverton Police Department to maintain a balance in the capabilities of the Traffic Safety Team (traffic motor vs. traffic car). The Traffic Safety Team would be able to increase current traffic safety enforcement programs and address the community s perception of traffic enforcement through additional education efforts. Officers would be able to implement new safety programs to address rising traffic concerns such as aggressive/distracted driving and motor carrier enforcement. Currently, the lieutenant assigned to the Traffic Safety Team is also responsible for overseeing the dayshift patrol division. An additional lieutenant assigned only to the Traffic Safety Team will provide for more accountable management and supervision of over 25 sworn and support personnel on the Traffic Safety Team, including photo radar operators. Right Turn on Red Cameras The traffic safety efforts of the Beaverton Police Department would significantly increase with enforcement of the Right Turn on Red violations which are already being captured with existing hardware. According to an international study conducted by the Monash University in Australia, the use of selective enforcement strategies, designed to specifically target high risk Beaverton Police Department Page 5

7 road use behavior and traffic accident locations is a cost effective enforcement alternative. In addition, they found that automated enforcement devices provide the most cost effective means of significantly increasing detection and should be adopted as a matter of priority. While the enforcement of these violations would increase the revenue to the City, the primary benefit would be pedestrian and bicycle crossing safety. Any time a vehicle fails to make a complete stop at a red light prior to making a right turn there is a risk of a vehicle/pedestrian accident. With the enforcement of these violations, we not only may prevent an accident from occurring, but they can be used as an educational reminder to the driver committing the infraction. Municipal Court Impact The addition of two additional traffic officers would increase the volume of citations to process for the Beaverton Municipal Court. Given the average number of citations issued by officers, it is felt that an additional Court Clerk would be needed to process the additional citations. The enforcement of the right turn on red violations would also cause an increase in the number of citations to process for the Beaverton Department s Traffic Safety Team and the Municipal Court. To offset this increase, a second Court Clerk position would be needed. This second Court Clerk would process the right turn on red citations as well as assist with the additional court trial times that would need to be added. A Bailiff position is also proposed to fill a dual role in providing part-time court security, as suggested in the recent Court Security Audit, as well as processing the additional citations created from adding the right turn on red violations. Fix-It Tickets and Bail Reductions As part of this proposal, research was conducted into the City s fine amounts assessed for Class A, B, C and D violations compared to other local cities (Newberg, West Linn, Tigard, Tualatin, Hillsboro, Forest Grove and Lake Oswego). The results of this study showed the City of Beaverton ranks as one of the highest municipalities in terms of base fines for traffic violations. Beaverton Newberg West Linn Tigard Tualatin Hillsboro Forest Grove Lake Oswego Class A $688 $544 $544 $495 $472 $472 $472 $472 Class B $382 $323 $323 $295 $287 $287 $287 $287 Class C $242 $214 $215 $195 $190 $190 $190 $190 Class D $168 $154 $154 $145 $142 $142 $142 $142 Given these results, and the current economic climate, the Department is suggesting two possible solutions; a reduction of bail fine amounts by approximately 20 percent and the creation of a vehicle compliance program. Beaverton Police Department Page 6

8 Currently, five agencies in our local area (Hillsboro, Forest Grove, Newberg, Sherwood and Tualatin) provide a vehicle compliance program, commonly referred to as fix-it tickets. These programs allow citizens the opportunity to repair or correct certain violations (registration issues and equipment on vehicle malfunctions are the most common) prior to their court date in exchange for a possible dismissal of the violation. A small administrative fee may be attached to the violation to compensate for associated processing costs. In addition to reducing the financial burden these minor infractions can cause, it requires the recipient to fix the problem the ultimate goal and acts as an educational tool and provides the City of Beaverton with additional goodwill. Financial Impact The revenue generated from the additional citations issued by the two additional traffic officers would offset the costs associated with those two additional officers. In addition, if the right turn on red violations are enforced, the potential revenue generated from those citations would offset the additional costs associated with the added Court Clerk and Bailiff positions as well as create additional revenue for traffic safety related programs. Conclusion This proposal to add additional traffic officers is a cost-effective use of taxpayer funds and allows the Department to respond to current and projected traffic safety concerns. These safety concerns will continue to increase as the City of Beaverton continues its projected growth. Past enforcement efforts of the Traffic Safety Team have been shown to cover the costs associated with salary/benefits, equipment and training. The safety, education and enforcement efforts of the Traffic Safety Team will be measured on an ongoing basis. These measurements will be used to determine the success of the Team s efforts, the analysis of changing traffic conditions and the proper allocation of resources. This joint effort on behalf of the Police Department and Municipal Court is intended to impact the number of injuries/deaths and economic losses suffered by citizens within the City as a result of traffic-related crashes by providing both traffic safety education and enforcement. Beaverton Police Department Page 7

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