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Singh, Morowit get it: Manteca needs more traffic officers
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Mike Morowit and Gary Singh have “just the ticket” for Manteca for the upcoming mid-year municipal budget review.
The two Manteca council members have said they’d like to see more police officers dedicated primarily to traffic enforcement.
And judging from daily remarks from Manteca residents as well as personal observations they are right on the money.
The City Council back in June when they adopted the current municipal spending plan collectively expressed the sentiment they wanted to look at the numbers again and hire an additional officer or two at mid-year if revenue trends allow it. Every council member at the time noted their sentiments that police staffing needed to be pumped up but also emphasized more manpower was needed across the board for most municipal services.
That said, a solid case can be made to give top priority to more traffic enforcement officers, should Manteca have the ability to create additional police officer positions next month.
uThere were almost three accidents a day on average during 2016 in Manteca that got the attention of the police department. That was a 10.82 percent increase over 2015.
uThere were 25.99 percent less citations for moving violations issued in 2015 (1,451) compared to 2015 (1,937). Accidents up double digit, moving violation tickets down double digits.
uMore people die in a given year in Manteca in traffic accidents than from homicides. Given most murder victims know their killers that means your chances of getting killed by a stranger are significantly greater driving, bicycling or walking down the street in Manteca than it is during the commission of a crime.
uThere were 13 times more traffic collisions in Manteca during 2016 than aggravated assaults — 77 versus 990. That means your personal safety is jeopardized 1,300% more while driving, bicycling or walking than it is by criminals.
uThere was $2.6 million worth of property that was stolen in Manteca in 2016 that wasn’t recovered. Assuming a low-ball figure of $5,000 in losses per accident those 990 accidents in 2016 represent at least an economic loss of $4.95 million or 90 percent more than from property losses connected with crime.
If you really want to concentrate additional resources to make Manteca a safer place to live and to protect people’s pocketbooks from wanton acts of others you should buff up traffic enforcement with dedicated police officers for that purpose.
It is true you could have 100 police looking for moving traffic violations that are major factors in accidents — speeding, distracted driving, rolling through stops, running red lights, unsafe lane changes and such — and you’d still have people violating the law.
The same is true if you have 100 police officers on duty looking to prevent burglaries and such that you would still have crime.
The big difference is the impact of stepped up enforcement in terms of what you can deter form happening.
Police point out crime is often the result of criminals taking the path of least resistance. If every jurisdiction stepped up their game it wouldn’t stop the hardcore criminals who make a living stealing or those strung out on drugs from committing criminal acts although crime would likely drop somewhat.
Given that virtually all of us do bonehead things that can lead to traffic accidents, substantially stepped up enforcement should have a significant impact on behind-the-wheel behavior.
Stepped up enforcement efforts of traffic laws have a ripple effect especially when they are a highly visible daily occurrence and not sporadic. Almost all of us slow down when we see a CHP unit on the freeway but then we speed up when it is no longer in view. However in areas known for super vigilant speed enforcement, over time the “locals” – read that the majority of daily drivers on a particular route — start driving to protect their pocketbook.
They may not be perfect angels but they are more attuned to what they should be doing. It is why a lot of areas that earned wide-spread reputations as speed traps throughout California in the 1960s had a residue effect of most traffic keeping it under the posted speed long after the courts banned enforcement practices enabling a speed trap to be created.
People are still going to roll through stop signs. But if 600 people more a year get tickets for doing that stunt, rest assured word will get around it is pretty risky to do so in Manteca as you have a good chance of getting caught. Tickets are a great educational tool while being a lousy way for the city to earn money.
All traffic violations in Manteca that are issued in a given year doesn’t barely generate the money to cover the salary and benefits of one police officer. Less than 16 percent typically goes to the city. The rest goes to the state including a ton of add on charges based on the costs of the court. That said they are a great educational tool as it gives the driver cited an expensive reminder on traffic laws that are put in place to assure everyone’s safety.
The best way to make Manteca safer and to reduce losses at the hands of strangers is to step up traffic enforcement.
And the way to do that is hiring more police for the primary purpose of targeted enforcement of moving violations that lead to serious injuries, deaths, and major property losses.


rocklin speed trap

This column is the opinion of executive editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Bulletin or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA.  He can be contacted at or 209.249.3519.