Traffic officers are highly trained

Jul. 06, 2013 @ 04:59 PM

The blue lights flash; it’s time to pull the car over. You were speeding and you know it, but you’re a little frustrated because you were in a hurry.

Before you let your temper flare, remember: That’s not just some guy or gal coming toward your car. That’s a highly trained officer of the Monroe Police Department.

The MPD’s traffic unit has a total of nine officers — a lieutenant, a sergeant and seven master police officers. Officers drive both marked and unmarked cars.

Seven officers are certified crash reconstructionists. To learn how to do that, officers spend at least seven weeks training in how to investigate crashes.

Some officers have specialized training in commercial motor vehicle reconstruction, pedestrian reconstruction, 3D laser mapping and 3D animation. Our division has some of the latest crash investigation equipment on the market, including a LTI 3D laser mapping system and Aras 360 HD 3D mapping software. 

All traffic officers are certified on multiple radar units, speed measuring lasers and are Intox EC/IR II certified (breathalyzer). Traffic officers have advanced training in DWI detection and are fully versed in motor vehicle laws.

They regularly participate with other law enforcement agencies in multi-jurisdiction checkpoints and saturation patrols within the region.

The traffic unit, under the supervision of Lt. David Morton, works closely with the North Carolina Governor’s Highway Safety Program and participates in all of its events.

Officers regularly participate in public educational events, where they teach students and adults the hazards of texting while driving, speeding and driving while impaired. They emphasize the use of seatbelts and child passenger safety restraints.

In addition to child safety seat installations done by our own fire department, the traffic unit holds a child passenger safety seat inspection station every Wednesday at the police department. They are on hand to teach parents the proper way to install child safety seats. 

Traffic officers attend community watch meetings and respond to requests for putting up our speed detection trailers in certain areas, as well as responding to complaints of speeding in certain neighborhoods. 

They’re excellent at responding to public requests to monitor speeding. Residents at a recent community watch meeting asked officers to write more tickets in their neighborhood to get speeders to slow down. Soon after, we received calls from two of the people who had asked for more police coverage. They had gotten tickets.

Be careful what you ask for.

The traffic unit investigates all fatalities and serious injury collisions within the city. They have also been called upon by other agencies to assist them with fatal crashes.

Officers investigated an accident on Secrest Shortcut Road in October 2010. This case involved a DWI suspect that hit a vehicle head-on, killing the driver of the other car. Officers worked for more than two weeks on the case and compiled more than 150 pages of evidence, including a 3D animation of the collision.

Traffic officers presented the file to the district attorney’s office for review and the suspect pled guilty in court to second degree homicide, less than 60 days after the incident.

There’s more to the traffic unit than just writing tickets. They are highly trained officers who are able to reconstruct an accident, install a child safety seat, help a stranded motorist whose car has broken down and assist residents in keeping their neighborhoods safe.

So the next time you get pulled over in Monroe, remember to be courteous and professional — just like the officer who stopped you.

Debra Duncan is police chief of the City of Monroe.