California Highway Patrol motor officers rode out to several Westminster schools Feb. 21 to assist local traffic officers in a collaborative effort to reduce speeding and accidents along busy streets.
The number of traffic collisions in the city over the past three years was 3,598 – 1,646 of those involved injuries and 14 of those included fatalities, according to Westminster Police Department Motor Sgt. Bill Drinnin, who coordinated the effort between the agencies. He said the Primary Collision Factor (PCF) in that period (what caused the collisions) was speeding, followed by turning violations and right-of-way violations.
“These are the causes for the crashes,” said Drinnin. “The No. 1 factor for our city has been speeding, for years.”
Though Westminster patrol and motor officers in the Traffic Bureau have teamed up with local CHP officers in the past, this is the first joint effort where schools were specifically identified as high traffic areas for police enforcement.
Drinnin, other members of the WPD Traffic Bureau and CHP motor officers headed out to six schools in pairs. The schools included Westminster High School, Johnson Middle School, Finely Elementary School, Schmidt Elementary School, Marshall Elementary School and Leo Carrillo Elementary School.
Drinnin said certain schools were selected based on the area’s history of accidents and speeding. For example, Beach Boulevard, he said, is at the top of the list for injury accidents. The officers stationed themselves along the main streets outside the schools during peak hours: morning drop-off and pick-up.
“The schools are all really important to us,” he said. “Traffic seems to be a very big topic at the schools.”
Drinnin stationed himself near the parking lot exit outside of Westminster High School along Goldenwest Street during the afternoon pick-up, pointing a radar speed gun out at the oncoming traffic. At one point he sped on after a white sedan (which was going 41 mph on a 25 mph street). Later, a blue Honda Civic sped by going 70 mph.
“They were both cooperative,” he said. “The second guy was like ‘Yeah, you got me. I’m just in a hurry to get home.’”
Drinnin said the enforcement efforts for the day resulted in a total of 15 citations and eight warnings. Another joint traffic enforcement operation is planned with CHP in April. The idea is for other schools within the city to be identified for enforcement.
“This is the first time we decided to reach out to the other agencies for help so we can cover as much area in a short amount of time,” Drinnin said. “We’re always looking for innovative ways to help the community.”