Angelenos want more police emphasis on speeding drivers

They can apparently live with gang-related violence. What Los Angeles residents say they fear the most, according to a recently released survey commissioned by the Los Angeles Police Department, is speeders.

Responses from about 1,200 residents, who took the written survey in English, Korean and Spanish, ranked speeding drivers right alongside drugs and crimes, and ahead of youth gangs. Commissioned by the LAPD Traffic Division, the survey was mailed to randomly selected residents citywide.

While 70 percent said police do an “excellent” or “pretty good” job of handling accidents, only 46 percent said the department is as good at catching dangerous drivers. In fact, 68 percent of those surveyed believe that should be the department’s primary duty. Only 28 percent believe police should spend more time controlling traffic.

The highest mark  88 percent  was given to appearance, and 73 percent gave high marks for courtesy and politeness.

“The bottom line is that people in neighborhoods are really bothered most by speeding cars and disorder in their neighborhoods,” said James Lasley, an associate professor of criminal justice at California State University-Fullerton, who administered the survey. “Traffic affects the average person more than anything else.”

Cmdr. Art Lopez, chief of the Traffic Division, said he plans to share the results of the survey with traffic officers. “The public has sent a loud and clear message of what they want,” he told the Los Angeles Times.

For those worried about speeding, the department has already taken some steps, such as supplying radar equipment to residents so they can write down the license plate numbers of speeding cars. The drivers will then receive warning letters from police. Lopez said he is working on a plan with City Councilman Mike Feuer to obtain city funding to expand the program.

Lopez said he also hopes to have high-tech surveillance cameras installed at some of the city’s most dangerous intersections by early next year. The technology, which must be approved by the City Council, will help to reduce the number of accidents caused by drivers who ignore traffic signals, by recording their license plate numbers.

Special cameras in the San Fernando Valley have been aimed at speeders and other motorists who drive illegally. Fifteen-hundred vehicles were impounded in a crackdown earlier this year.


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Published in Law Enforcement News
Nov. 30, 1996.
© 1996, LEN Inc.