By: Jim Donnelly
Ever drive by the Coral Square Mall south parking lot and wonder why all of those orange traffic cones are spread out across the pavement? Or wonder why it looks like a hang out for a bunch of guys with motorcycles? If you look closer you might even notice that the guys riding those motorcycles are Coral Springs Police officers.
These officers belong to the city’s “Traffic Unit” and are training. The unit trains monthly because each officer in the unit has to “qualify” twice a year in order to remain active within the unit.
We all loved the show “ChiPs” when we were growing up but unfortunately our favorite CHP officers Ponch and John parked their bikes long ago. The popularity for motorcycle cops ended when the show went off the air. The “Traffic Unit” is usually not what you would call the most popular division of any police department. That’s because if they pull you over you usually wind up getting a ticket. The reason they have to write tickets is because they want to save lives.
Here are some statistics you might find interesting:
Since 2012 the City of Coral Springs has had 18 Fatalities caused by traffic accidents. Five of those accidents were directly related to the fact that the occupant was not wearing his/her seatbelt. Pedestrian/ Bicycle accidents accounted for five of those deaths and the remaining fatal accidents were a mixture of speed, alcohol, and those involving motorcycles.
With the rise in deaths associated with accidents the Coral Springs Traffic Unit has applied for state grant funding to combat the increases in injury crashes and as of August 2013 has been receiving grant funded money to target a growing pedestrian/bicycle safety issue that has increased since 2012. With this grant Coral Springs traffic officers conduct monthly operations that include handling out brochures, distributing bicycle lights, and educating our youth at events such as Safety Town. They also use message boards and press releases (prior to enforcement) in an attempt to warn the public of the hazards associated with pedestrian/bicycle violations and their interaction with motor vehicle traffic.
The Coral Springs Traffic Unit has also partnered up with AARP to conduct monthly classes in order to help educate those elderly commuters on defensive and safe driving methods with the intent to reduce injury crashes. The Coral Springs Traffic Unit is committed to reducing injury crashes and deaths and uses several resources to help curtail reckless driving. With the use of speed counters, radar trailers, and with direct contact with citizens, they try to address an area of concern prior to it becoming a threat to a human life. The unit also devotes a great deal of time daily to the city’s 23 public and private schools.
It seems that lately, police officers have become easy targets for people that want to complain about law enforcement. Lets face it, no one wants a ticket but these guys will tell you that they’d write their own mother a ticket because it might save a life. They will do whatever it takes to save lives. Its time we start to appreciate what this unit does to make our community safer.
If you’d like to show your appreciation, then visit www.southeastpolice.com. SPMC has hosted one of the largest motorcycle rodeo charity events in the country. The event is now hosted by the Seminole Hard Rock Casino in Hollywood. This will be their 27th year and they have raised over a half a million dollars, funds that have been donated directly to the COPS Kids Foundation and to local Children Charity Organizations throughout South Florida. The charity raises funds by selling raffle tickets for a brand new Harley Davidson Motorcycle (yearly) and through promotional advertising for our neighboring businesses.
They are not just saving lives but helping to improve them as well. They ask that you try to reduce your distractions while driving and pay attention while you are on the streets as a pedestrian. Together we can all save lives!
Jim Donnelly is an Emmy Award winning journalist with over 30 years of experience reporting news in South Florida and beyond. Through his company Image Masters Photography he has also provided services for many of the Fortune 100 companies. He has provided services for the Marlins, Heat, Dolphins and NASCAR as well as providing breaking news coverage for all of the major news outlets in South Florida and major networks around the world.
Jim is a member of the Coral Springs Sports Commission and has a long history of volunteer work with the city as well as with the School Board of Broward County.