By Sanow, Ed
Law & Order , Vol. 55, No. 3
Last year, 44,000 people lost their lives on the nation's roads. Auto crashes are the leading cause of death for all people between ages 3 and 33. Yet traffic enforcement is one of the first areas that is cut when the budget gets tight. I know the courts have ruled that law enforcement has a duty to protect the collective society and not any one individual. However, if your department cut back on traffic enforcement because gasoline got expensive, I wonder if your department has some ownership in those lost lives and in the 2 million injuries from crashes?
Traffic safety is a three-part combination of enforcement, education and engineering. Law enforcement has a role in all three areas, not just enforcement. The infrastructure of the roads is civil engineering and beyond the scope of policing. But analyzing traffic accidents, determining crash-prone locations and raising the profile of those locations certainly is a policing function. Persuade the appropriate highway department supervisor or local legislator to visit those locations with you.
Have you had more people die in felonies or in traffic accidents? Right. The very core of community policing should focus on the real reasons that people in your area are dying.
Education doesn't stop with our press releases announcing special enforcement before a holiday weekend. The better departments are doing mock accident recreations at high schools and traffic safety clinics at county fairs. Education also includes using the local members of the press. …