Police stepping up patrols as East Valley students return to school this week - East Valley Tribune: East Valley Education News

Police stepping up patrols as East Valley students return to school this week

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Posted: Sunday, August 5, 2012 8:00 am | Updated: 6:21 pm, Thu Aug 9, 2012.

Drivers across the East Valley will begin seeing crosswalks full of children who are returning to school this week – along with extra police officers on the street to enforce traffic laws near campuses.

Police say they will step up patrols for two weeks to increase public awareness of safety during the school year.

Leadfoots need to be especially careful.

While police will cite drivers going 11 mph or more over the speed limit in many cases, the rules are different around schools, Mesa police Sgt. Sean Kelly said.

“There are certain posted limits that are absolute and the 15 mile per hour speed limit is one of them,” Kelly said. “In school zones, you’re not getting any tolerance.”

Mesa police said traffic enforcement is a priority all year, but that they boost their efforts significantly at the start of each school year. The additional enforcement will occur around schools in the Mesa Unified School District and the schools in the Gilbert Unified School District that are in the city.

Police will have a new tool to catch speeders when they increase patrols this week. Mesa has four new radar detectors on motorcycles that allow officers to detect speed as the officer is driving. Until now, all of Mesa’s radar detectors required an officer to be stationary while pointing a radar gun.

The city is testing the new devices and will consider buying more of them based on their performance.

School zones aren’t the only place drivers will find additional traffic enforcement starting this week.

Mesa police will work about 700 hours of overtime from now through Sept. 30 to target parts of the city with high levels of collisions and criminal activity.

Police have determined what areas to patrol by mapping the location of crash and crime reports. In places where both problems overlap, police will stage additional officers.

The idea is that police will find people with warrants or suspects committing crimes while doing routine traffic stops, Kelly said.

“People who commit crimes also do not follow civil traffic laws,” Kelly said.

Police have a $44,000 grant for the overtime, funded by the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety.

The additional police work will help make up for some of the loss of manpower resulting from the recession’s effect on Mesa, Kelly said. The police department shrunk by about 80 positions because of budget cuts starting in 2008.

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