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					Category:                              Special Award
Winner or Honorable Mention:           Honorable Mention
Title of the Project:                  Citizen Traffic Volunteers
City:                                  Lakewood
Population:                            63,820
Name:                                  Larry Saunders
Title:                                 Chief, Lakewood Police Dept.
Phone:



                 City of Lakewood Traffic Safety Volunteer Program

The City of Lakewood has a unique citizen traffic safety unit Made up of 25 dedicated
volunteers who assist the Police Department by enforcing the laws governing disabled
parking in our business districts and by mounting speed reduction teams in
neighborhoods experiencing chronic speeding problems. Their efforts provide a level of
service to Lakewood citizens that we simply could not otherwise afford. They also tie up
scarce commissioned police officers for higher priority enforcement duties.

The enforcement team has two divisions with a single, highly dedicated citizen volunteer
manager. This manager schedules enforcement emphases, reviews and files compliance
and information forms, records infractions, prepares statistical data, and maintains the
equipment and safety clothing used by the teams as they conduct their business. She is
also a crucial player in the recruitment and training of other citizen traffic volunteers. The
volunteer manager coordinates closely with the Lakewood Traffic Unit Sergeant to track
citizen requests for traffic service, schedule areas for deployment, provide feedback on
traffic emphases results to the requesting citizen, and schedule follow up actions for
chronic traffic problems.

One division of the volunteer team enforces disabled parking. They are trained in state
and municipal law governing disabled parking, customer relations and inter-personal skill
the proper administration of infraction notices. Upon the training, volunteers are granted
a limited police commission for parking enforcement. Field teams patrol Lakewood
business districts several times a week to identify parking violations. Once individual
violations are noted, the DPE volunteers photograph the improperly parked vehicle, and
then issue an infraction. The infractions are forwarded to an administrative citizen
volunteer, who runs the license number and fills in the registered owner information
before forwarding the infraction to our Municipal Court. By placing the confirmed
registered owner information on the infraction, court administrators are saved countless
hours of work.

In the last year, the DPE team issued over 300 infractions to vehicles parked in violation
of disabled parking law. Revenues provided the City in bail amounts associated with
these infractions exceed $27,200. Most important, citizen complaints about disabled
parking violations have been virtually eliminated.
Recently the DPE team identified a challenge from a large number of businesses not in
compliance with 1998 state law governing the signs and markings for disabled parking
slots. Without approved signs and markings, the team is unable to issue infractions to
violators. in partnership with the Lakewood Chamber of Commerce, the DPE team has
begun a process to improve business compliance with the law.

The first step, completed last year, was to catalogue a database of the 5,859 Lakewood
businesses by name, address, and police district. This year the DPE team began the
process of gaining voluntary support for improved compliance. Local print media
published several articles on the requirements of the American Disabilities Act and
associated state law, emphasizing their importance to the quality of life of our disabled
community. The team is now systematically following up these public announcements
with visits to each business in Lakewood. This is expected to be a two-year project. The
goals are to provide further awareness on the legal requirements and give a courtesy
check on compliance. Businesses already within the law receive a thank you note and a
POLICE COMMUNITY PARTNERS sticker documenting their compliance.
Businesses not yet in compliance are encouraged to follow the law and given information
on where signage may be obtained. The team also provides a specific recommendation on
the proper number and positioning of required disabled parking spaces. The team then
schedules a return visit with the owner or manager to monitor progress and to assist
further if necessary. If compliance is gained, "thank you’s" and stickers follow. If no
progress is made after the second courtesy visit, further follow up becomes the
responsibility of a fully commissioned traffic officer.

The other division of out volunteer traffic team addresses speeding in neighborhoods.
Volunteers are trained on the operation of hand-held radar logging systems for recording
violator information, end safety measures for dangers of operating near a roadway. They
are posted in a manner to avoid direct citizen contact, but they are also trained on safety
procedures in case of an encounter with a disgruntled violator. Volunteer field teams are
dispatched to neighborhoods that receive speeding complaints. They log vehicle make,
license number, time, speed, and location for vehicles exceeding speeds five miles over
the limit. The logs are then turned over to the administrative volunteer who is trained and
cleared to run the license plate numbers of the speeders.

This generates the name of the vehicle’s registered owner(s). The volunteer then
compares the description of the vehicle in the log with that in the registration. If the
information is a match, the Traffic Unit Sergeant sends a friendly letter to the registered
owner(s). The volunteer then compares the description of the vehicle in the log with that
in the registration. If the information is a match, the Traffic Unit Sergeant sends a
friendly letter to the registered owner advising that the vehicle was observed exceeding
the posted speed limit in a neighborhood area and asking for their assistance in improving
the safety if the community.

In 2000, the Speed Reduction Enforcement Team sent over 1,281 warning letters to
speeders in Lakewood neighborhoods.
Response on the letters from the community, including our offender population, has been
highly positive. Moreover, the SRE team provides a level of coverage simply not possible
if the City was limited to commissioned enforcement only. Citizen complaints about poor
police response to speeders have dramatically declined. Most important, Citizens
experiencing problem speeders are encouraged to buy into problem solving by
coordinating their neighborhood complaints directly with the traffic unit sergeant and
the volunteer manager. In fact, our volunteer manager has had great success in recruiting
those with speeding complaints to become speed watch volunteers.

The reputation of City of Lakewood traffic volunteers is wide spread throughout the
region. They have sponsored spin-off programs in Pierce and King counties. They have
received volunteer awards or special recognition from the City of Lakewood, Pierce
County Sheriffs Department, and Pierce County/ they have been featured in special
interest articles in the Tacoma News Tribune, Lakewood Journal and the Business
Examiner.

Their contributions are priceless. Our traffic volunteers donated well over 1500 hours in
2000. The City uses a median wage of $10 to access the value of their Volunteers. This
yields minimum savings of $15,000 to the City. A better assessment of their true worth is
$50 an hour, the average hourly cost of the police officer whose time they save. At that
rate, the services they provided in 2000 can be valued at $75,000.


Enclosures:
Newspaper Articles from Chamber, Tacoma News Tribune, Lakewood Journal, and the
XXXX Business Examiner
Team and Individual Award Citations
Sample DRE Contact Letter and Stickers for ADA Business Compliance
Sample Speed Warning Letter

				
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posted:4/7/2010
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