The Hazelwood Police Department maintains a separate traffic unit for the sole purpose of handling traffic enforcement and crashes with reported injuries or fatalities. This unit of the police department is identified as the Traffic Management Team. This team has three officers and one supervisor. The officers have been specially trained in speed enforcement methods, alcohol/drug impaired driving recognition and serious crash investigation.
The team members are certified crash reconstructionist, Type II State certified Breathalyzer administrators, Radar Instructors, amongst other police specialties. This team addresses the local street/residential roadway related traffic concerns of residents and provides information on the different types of techniques that may be used in a neighborhood traffic plan and the methodology to be used to evaluate the problems identified. The team provides traffic calming treatments, such as selective use of speed radar, monitoring of high accident locations and directive patrol of problem locations. The team works with other city departments to address traffic issues and create neighborhood traffic plans, develop solutions to traffic-related problems in city neighborhoods.
The officers in this team work during the day and evening hours, at the highest times of vehicular travel. They will work individually to address the routine issues of traffic enforcement or team together to target a particular problem or complaint in an area or neighborhood. The team utilizes different approaches to gain compliance and modify driver behavior. Some of these may be the use of visual speed radar displays to alert drivers of their speed, group enforcement for high visibility, and specialized vehicles such as motorcycles or unmarked police vehicles.
The Traffic Management Team will conduct traffic studies to help with determining where problems exist and how when they should be addressed. The team can deploy overt and covert traffic counting equipment to measure the traffic patterns and help determine if a problem exists.
The team also conducts numerous activities within the community each year to encourage safe driving habits. One event is held at Hazelwood West High School prior to senior prom and graduation. This event consists of a presentation to the entire senior class concerning drinking, driving and their effects. After this presentation, the police department, fire department and school staff and students participate in re-enactment of a traffic crash involving a suspected “drunk driver” and “injured and deceased” vehicle occupants. The driver and occupants are members of the high school’s theater groups and are in full theatrical make-up to appear as injured and fatal car crash occupants. The driver is “arrested” while the fire department uses various tools to remove the victims from the damaged vehicles. The vehicles are previously wrecked automobiles, supplied by a local towing company.
Other events include safety fairs, attending community events, neighborhood meeting to discuss traffic related issues. The team has two Harley-Davidson police motorcycles which are used for traffic enforcement and special events. The motor officers are used for escorts in parades, dignitary visits, funerals and other special events as authorized by the Chief of Police.
Additionally, the department receives monetary grants to pay for officer’s overtime expenses for additional traffic enforcement. The Highway Safety Division has approved grants for targeted enforcement of hazardous moving violations, seatbelt usage, and impaired driving. These grants are sometimes used for group enforcement details as may be seen on the interstate highways or at times when excessive impaired driving may be expected.
The team is involved with reducing the access to and sales of liquor to minors. This is achieved through the participation in the Enforcement of Underage Drinking Laws grant. All liquor licensees’ are notified that the department conducts compliance and bar checks. A compliance check follows State regulations and employs an 18 or 19 year old person to act as a “youthful buyer”. The youthful buyer works with the police department to act as a trained undercover operative. Each month officers will conduct compliance checks at establishments that sell intoxicating beverages. The youthful buyer is accompanied by undercover officers and is sent into the establishments to attempt a liquor purchase, while the undercover officers witness the event. If a violation occurs, the officers issue a summons to the clerk and notify the owner listed on the liquor license. If violations continue to occur serious sanctions can be brought against the owner including revocation of their liquor license. The officers also encourage owners to provide training for the clerks, bartenders and waitresses which instruct them in the proper procedures to ensure compliance with age restriction laws. This project is supported by funding made available through a Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act Grant Program administered by the U.S. Department of Justice and the Missouri Department of Public Safety, Office of the Director, and the Juvenile Justice Advisory Group.