In response to traffic complaints from the local community, officers from Plant City’s police department held a demonstration to help residents gain a better understanding of the enforcement process.
Plant City residents have long complained about drivers speeding through the local neighborhood that surrounds the long stretch of Ball St., ranging from Evers St. to Waller St.
In response to recent complaints filed at one of the Plant City Police Department’s bi-monthly community meetings held at the department, Captain Alfred Van Duyne along with officers Shawnice Wiggins and Kyle Russell met with community members at Mt. Olive Church, 604 W. Ball St., for a radar and laser demonstration. The event allowed residents to see all of what goes into speed detection, in addition to allowing officers the chance to answer any questions posed during the demonstration.
“The thing is, we’d hate for something bad to happen before they put up a stop sign when they can do it now,” resident Celestine Moore said. “Then it would prevent all of that.”
Plant City Police had previously conducted speed studies using a small, portable radar box that allows the department to gain long-term information on both the frequency of traffic in the area, as well as the direction and speed at which the traffic is traveling. The radar box can be mounted to a telephone pole or a tree for long periods to gather date on traffic, unbeknownst to the drivers themselves.
The result of these studies indicated that there are indeed incidents of speeding from motorists that would require enforcement in the area, although the speeds travelled and the frequency of extreme offenses were not aligning with the level of complaints that the department has received from residents. In response, PCPD did however take action by deploying officers to perform speed enforcement in the area.
“We did do some traffic control out there,” Van Duyne said. “We were able to stop some vehicles but the vehicle speed that we got were not the breakneck speeds that the citizens were relaying to us, that it’s a race track, that they’re doing 50, 60 miles per hour day in and day out.”
Chief James Bradford then proposed the idea to hold this event, allowing citizens to compare perceived speeds and gain a better understanding of that when compared to the actual speed of the vehicle when compared to a radar or laser unit.
Officers met with residents at the church at 8 a.m. and walked a short distance down the road where Officer Russell, a member of PCPD’s Traffic Management Unit, displayed specifics regarding his vehicle’s mounted radar unit and a portable laser unit when measuring the speed of oncoming vehicles.
“I’m just glad to be enlightened on this,” Rhonda Bellamy said. “I’m glad to see them out here to tell you the truth, it was very informative and I’m just glad.”
In addition to monitoring the speeds of oncoming motorists, Officer Wiggins made several trips past the group in a vehicle of her own, at designated speeds, allowing residents to observe what each speed looks like and guess how fast she was traveling.
But despite their appreciation for the department’s efforts and the knowledge that they gained from the demonstration, residents feel that more can be done.
“Going to city hall and seeing about some stop signs or speed bumps put in,” Bellamy said about the community’s potential next step. “Or hire more officers so that during those peak times for speeding, from six to eight like [Van Duyne] said, you can have someone over here.”