When you see a Mesa motorcycle officer, do you automatically think they’re looking to give someone a ticket for speeding and/or for other traffic violations?
While their main job is traffic enforcement, Sgt. Greg Loewenhagen says there’s no ticket quota at Mesa Police Department.
“It’s a personal decision by the officer,” Loewenhagen said.
“If we have supervisors saying, ‘You need to write 10 tickets a day or 20 tickets a day,’ they kind of take the decision-making away from the officer. You’re pressuring them to do it. So, it’s not allowed. It’s not supported.”
He said traffic officers need to be productive.
“I don’t mind if work is traffic or looking for drugs or warrant violations or going to help neighbors carry in their groceries,” said Loewenhagen.
“Whatever the case is. We want them visible to the public,” he added. “We want them doing community service or addressing calls for service or doing traffic enforcement of some kind. The type of police work they do is up to them.”
Loewenhagen admits he writes more warnings than tickets – as do many of his colleagues.
“It does vary by officer. I would say there are officers who write lots and lots of tickets and there are officers who very rarely write tickets. It’s one of those things where we give the officers discretion,” he said.
Since motorcycle officers’ main job is traffic enforcement, they typically do hand out more tickets than patrol officers.
“If you take an officer who’s in a car or truck, their primary job is answering 911 calls and addressing peoples’ emergencies,” explained Loewenhagen. “We do similar duties, but we focus on traffic first.” It includes work zones and traffic enforcement at intersections.
The goal is to lower violations since that’ll lower crashes.
“Collisions are directly related to moving violations,” said Loewenhagen. “The more moving violations we have the more collisions we have. Collisions, most of the time, are damage only but it’s the injury we want to avoid.
“We don’t want people to get hurt because of moving violations.”
While texting and driving along with talking on cell phones contribute a lot to distracted driving, Loewenhagen said he also observes other forms of distractions behind the wheel.
“Watching someone put on make-up in their vehicle while they’re driving 15-20 mph over the speed limit – it just blows my mind. I don’t understand it,” he said.
“Or eating a giant cheeseburger while driving. It takes two hands. Driving is a focused activity. Your eyes should be on the road. Your mind should be on the controls.”
He also advises motorists to be on the look-out for blind spots – maybe bushes where you can’t see a car around the corner or a spot where could a car come out so quickly reducing reaction times to near impossible to avoid collisions.
For every 5 mph motorists increase speed, significantly increases the stopping distance and reaction times.
“The difference between 45 mph and 60 mph is incredible when you talk about stopping distances and perception and reaction time to hazards come out into your path of travel and whether or not your vehicle is physically capable of avoiding those hazards at 60 mph vs. 45 mph,” explained Loewenhagen.
“If you can clearly read the license plate in front of you, you’re probably a little too close.”
If an officer does pull you over, turn on your emergency flashers and start to slow down, if possible, plus follow the directions the officer is giving you on the loudspeaker, he advises.
“Typically, I’ll do that on my motorcycle where I’ll talk to the person in front of me as they’re pulling over and I’ll let them know, ‘hey could you please pull to the right or can you turn off on the next street,’” said Loewenhagen.
“And people are usually very receptive to do that. I think they feel more at ease with going down-the-street further when the officer is telling them, ‘Hey, go ahead and do that. It’s not a big deal.’”
He reassures drivers they won’t get in trouble for driving a little way to find a safe place to pull over.