By Gina Mace
Special to the Beacon Journal
CUYAHOGA FALLS: After three months of a special traffic enforcement program, Cuyahoga Falls police say arrests are up and traffic crashes are down.
Police Chief Tom Pozza said the program is doing what he expected and motorists seem to be slowing down.
Under the Special Traffic Operations Program (STOP), city officers receive overtime to work a special traffic enforcement detail. They are expected to write at least three tickets an hour.
The overtime is paid through fines collected in Cuyahoga Falls Mayor’s Court.
The idea is to have more of a police presence on the roads.
Since the program started in May, officers have made several criminal arrests, including people wanted on warrants and four people who were found with portable meth labs in two vehicles.
One stop uncovered a man who had heroin.
Cuyahoga Falls Mayor Don Robart supports the effort and says residents are in agreement.
“Going into the program, we were confident that a significant benefit would be an increase in criminal arrests and a decrease in traffic crashes,” Robart said. “We have seen both things occur.”
Officials said traffic crashes are down 8 percent compared to this time a year ago.
A month into the program, Pozza said he received an email from Summit County Prosecutor Sherri Bevan Walsh.
She recounted how she was driving on state Route 8 on a Saturday morning when she was passed by “a car that came flying by” in a reckless manner.
“I suddenly saw him slam on his brakes,” she wrote. “Turns out, one of your officers was doing radar on the side of the highway. Although they must not have gotten him on the radar as he wasn’t pulled over, after that he drove safely for quite a distance.”
Walsh thanked Pozza for the aggressive traffic enforcement program.
“The guy I saw most likely would have caused an accident and he changed his driving as soon as he saw your officer,” she wrote.
While the special traffic detail is writing more tickets, those officers on regular patrol still give breaks when warranted. Warnings are about the same, and traffic tickets are actually down from last year.
Robart said morale is up in the police department as a result of the proactive, tough-on-crime program.
“There is no question in my mind that the accelerated traffic enforcement activity by our police department has led to a safer community,” Robart said.