WESTBROOK — Westbrook Police are moving into the third month of a crackdown on speeders and other traffic violators by focusing on specific streets that generate the most complaints.

“Our biggest complaint at the station is traffic complaints, whether it is speeders, people going through red lights or texting,” Capt. Sean Lally said. “Historically it’s about traffic and people violating the law.”

Targeting specific areas allows the department, which now has four patrol vacancies, to make use of limited resources, Capt. Sean Lally said. It also sends a warning to would-be speeders in those areas that there’s a good chance they’ll get stopped.

Since November, officers have focused on specific roads where there are a high number of complaints.

During the week of Dec. 16 alone, police made 112 traffic stops adding to the 2019 total of over 6,777.

Although the department made over 8,600 stops in 2018, the crackdown is more about strategy than the number of tickets issued.

“We got more strategic with our stops,” Lally said. “Instead of five officers on shift doing stops all over the city, we pick an area of concern and focus on that for a week. We may focus on Stroudwater Street …  so it gets three shifts focused on one area, then we move the ball to the next spot.”

During the week of the 16th, the focused included New Gorham Road and Spring and Cumberland streets.

Radar records are used to determine what streets to target and at what times.

“We deploy a speed spy, a radar unit concealed in a box,” Lally said. “We put it up in the area and monitor traffic for a day or two, and it will tell us how many cars went by, what the speeds were, and what percentage of cars are speeding and how fast over the speed limit they are going. It spits out a whole readout of stats that will show us, for example, if cars mainly are speeding on a road from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. We use stats to help us deploy our limited resources,” Lally said.

Police shift the focus frequently as traffic complaints come in, he said.

“We are getting complaints all over the city, it’s everywhere,” Lally said. “It’s a hard thing to tackle because we can’t be everywhere at once, and we are trying to focus our initiative to these different spots”

The department hopes the crackdown will lead to voluntary compliance with speed limits.

“I feel that if people think they may get a ticket, if they have it in their mind, they drive the speed limit. If they don’t think they will get a ticket, they do what they want,” Lally said.

Meanwhile, a second full-time traffic enforcement officer will be added to the force once the department fills its four officer vacancies. Adding the second traffic officer was among Mayor Mike Foley’s campaign promises.

“In addition to the position, we are looking to make investments for purchasing portable speed limit signs for more of our problematic areas,” Foley said.

The City Council and mayor’s office has long been aware that traffic violations are a big concern, Foley said.

“When I first began serving on the City Council, it was something we got complaints about all the time,” Foley said. “It was one of the reasons the council created the first traffic enforcement position years back. With that, we saw an impact, but it has been ramped up more lately. One officer can only work so many days and be in so many places.”

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