Norwalk Police Chief Mike Conney praised his officers for their diligent work on the roads after the year-end report showed the department issued more tickets than warnings.
Conney said when he was named chief he requested the officers focus more on catching traffic law violators.
“The officers always have the discretion that they can formally enforce the law by issuing a citation or then can do so informally by giving a verbal or written warning. We expect them to to look at all situations and to make a good, sound decision. And I trust my officers’ discretion and the decisions they made.
“I have no problem with them issuing more citations,” Conney added.
Contrary to popular belief, the chief said police don’t patrol the streets just to pay the department’s bills or to give drivers a rough time.
“The goal is to change their driving behavior and make the roads safer,” he said.
When he recently presented his annual report to Norwalk city council, Conney said during typical driving times in the city, it’s becoming more difficult for drivers to follow the law.
“Try to go the speed limit down a residential side street and you have someone basically tailgating you the whole way,” he said, adding that not only frustrates drivers trying to abide by the law, but is actually dangerous. “That does cause accidents. Following so closely that you can't stop in time, that was the number one cause of crashes in the city in 2018.”
Conney said throughout 2019, the department will focus on cracking down on any drivers they find “tailgating” other vehicles.
Operating a vehicle while under the influence (OVI) accounted for 19 of the city’s crashes last year. Officers made 113 OVI arrests in both 2018 and 2017. However, the department’s year-end overview reported officers responded to 11 fewer OVI incidents.
“I know that traditionally our guys on third shift, they’re extremely focused on looking for impaired drivers,” Conney said.
“They’re aggressive and they should be. If you’re driving in Norwalk between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., you better follow the law to the letter or you’re going to be stopped. That's expected. They’re looking for any violations that could indicate impaired driving and they’re taking action. ... They do a great job of it.”
Conney said spotting impaired drivers will continue to be a main focus throughout 2019.
Again, the chief said the department’s main focus isn’t to burden drivers, but to ensure the safety of the community.
“If you don't want to have any contact with the police, it’s simple — just follow the traffic laws,” he said.
COMING FRIDAY: Part 5 in this series will focus on the city’s most dangerous intersections.
BREAKOUT BOX 1
This week, the Reflector is publishing a six-part series about the 2018 Norwalk Police Department annual report.
Here is the focus of each part:
Monday - Crime overview
Tuesday - Sex offenses
Wednesday - Drug crimes
TODAY - Traffic law enforcement
Friday - Most dangerous intersections
Saturday - Department updates and vision
BREAKOUT BOX 2
2018 TRAFFIC OVERVIEW FOR NORWALK
Here are the numbers of total reports filed for each traffic incident in Norwalk during the last two years.
Category 2017, 2018, Change
Traffic stops — 4,510, 4,834, +324
Traffic citations — 1,474, 1,634, +160
Warnings — 1,009, 956, -53
Traffic crashes — 326, 353, +27
Parking violations — 222, 142, -79
OVI — 124, 113, -11
BREAKOUT BOX 3
TRAFFIC OFFENSES IN NORWALK
Here are the numbers of criminal traffic offenses and related arrests in Norwalk during the last two years.
Category 2017 2018
Traffic offenses — 36 (0) 47 (0)
Traffic stops — 828 (0) 842 (5)
OVI — 133 (113) 114 (113)
NOTE: Related arrests are in parenthesis.
SOURCE: Norwalk Police Department
“If you don't want to have any contact with the police, it’s simple — just follow the traffic laws.”
— Norwalk Police Chief Mike Conney