Kennebunk Police Officer Justin Titcomb is the department’s traffic officer. He talked about his role in a recent ride-along as the department attempts to get people to slow down, and to obey other traffic laws. Tammy Wells Photo

KENNEBUNK — Officer Justin Titcomb “gets a visual” on a vehicle driving toward him on Port Road, and at the same time, the radar device emits a steady tone.

That steady tone means the radar signal that measures speed is strong. “Getting a visual” means an officer gets an estimate, within 5 mph, of the speed at which a vehicle is moving, said Deputy Police Chief Michael Nugent.

Titcomb activates the blue lights on his unmarked vehicle and the sedan pulls to the side of the road and stops.

As it turns out the driver, a juvenile, has had previous encounters with law enforcement. Clocked at 47 in a 30 mph zone, she is given a ticket that comes with a $170 fine, that like all fines, is payable to the State of Maine.

Kennebunk Police would rather have motorists slow down of their own accord – but that isn’t happening, so traffic enforcement is being stepped up. In this traffic stop, Officer Justin Titcomb gives a written warning to a motorist driving 37 in a 25 mph zone. Tammy Wells Photo

Less than an hour later, Titcomb pulls over another driver, this time on Woodhaven Drive where speed complaints have increased lately, he said. The driver is operating at 37 mph in a 25 mph zone, according to the radar. The driver had no prior history, and she is left with a written warning that will show up on police department computers if she is stopped again.

Port Road, Summer Street, Woodhaven Drive and Alfred Road are all among Kennebunk’s most notable streets where people tend exceed the speed limit.

Speeding, red light violations, impaired driving and now, some drivers holding their cell phones when state law says using mobile devices must be hands-free, are among the traffic issues.

But there is one sort of incident citizens call about that that stands out among the others.

“Since I can remember, speeding is the number one complaint,” said Police Chief Robert MacKenzie.

MacKenzie is looking for voluntary compliance on the part of motorists. He wants people driving through town to slow down and to obey the other traffic laws of their own accord.

But he’s also putting motorists on notice that officers will be watching.

“We’ll have an all out effort that concentrates on violators,” said MacKenzie. He said the agency will use marked and unmarked vehicles, looking for violators of all traffic laws.

Enter Titcomb, a veteran police officer, first in the military, later with the town of Wells, and for the past three years, with the Kennebunk Police Department. While he’s not the only officer dealing with traffic issues, about six months ago he became officer whose time is primarily dedicated to that effort.

“I like traffic enforcement,” said Titcomb, adding he gets to interact with citizens more than in some other aspects of law enforcement.

Titcomb and MacKenzie said the department is employing devices on various roads that measure the speed in which vehicles are driving, and the time of day and the day of the week when most speeding occurs. Titcomb uses crash data and other information to determine where to set up traffic details.

MacKenzie estimated Kennebunk Police make about 2,500 to 3,000 traffic stops annually.

Though most are, not all speeding issues are about drivers going too fast. On the ride-along, Titcomb got a radio call to be on the lookout for a vehicle driving 10 to 15 miles under the speed limit on Route 1 — which can present other problems. Titcomb swung the cruiser around and began looking, but came up empty-handed.

While speeding is the most frequent complaint, there is also emphasis on impaired driving and other traffic issues — like Maine’s hands-free law. Titcomb estimates he’s handed out about 20 tickets since the law, which bans holding a cell phone while driving, went into effect on Sept. 19.

“I think people are paying more attention,” to the hands-free law, said Titcomb. “You still see it, but not as much.”

Titcomb turned around again and headed for Woodhaven Drive.

“People are always in such a rush these days,” he said.

Comments are not available on this story.

filed under: