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Chico PD adds traffic patrol unit

"We have far more traffic related deaths than homicides in this community and not having a traffic unit for the last ten years was not a good thing for this community." said Chief O'Brien.

Posted: Mar. 12, 2018 4:56 PM

"Just driving around myself, I saw things that were very concerning and quite frankly, our citizens were very concerned with what they were seeing on our street," said Chief Mike O'Brien.

Chico Police officers respond to more than 200 calls a day - they're busy! And as a result, police have been letting traffic violations slide. But it's had dangerous impacts.

"We have far more traffic related deaths than homicides in this community and not having a traffic unit for the last ten years was not a good thing for this community." said O'Brien.

In the past three years, 16 people have died in car wrecks in Chico. So, the department's re-launched a 3-man motorcycle unit specifically to monitor traffic.

"If you want to get around an accident, these guys are skilled at maneuvering around different obstacles," said O'Brien.

A 22 year veteran, Sergeant. Todd Lefkowitz will head the unit and run the major accident investigation team.

"We really want to bring safety back to our roads, through education and enforcement, we go out and educate folks on what the laws are, go to schools all the way up to college and we do strong enforcement," said Lefkowitz.

Officers Ryan Mitchell and Travis Johnson complete the team - and it's a tough job.

"What I tell people is, 'you're a good person you just committed a traffic violation and this is no bearing on who you are, but we do need to take action on this'," said Officer Travis Johnson.

"People get upset, just getting pulled over makes people upset sometimes and you have to evaluate each person as to why they're behaving the way they are. But, people have some colorful excuses!" said Officer Ryan Mitchell.

Dangerous driving can come from a little mistake, like texting or absentminded speeding....

"Or a big mistake if they're driving under the influence and take someone's life, it's a mistake that could have been prevented from the get-go," said Mitchell.

And, the Chief says, citation money goes to the general fund, and the only incentive to give tickets is to keep people safe.

"We want them to do their job and if there's no one violating the law, great! But there's no such thing as a quota for us," said O'Brien.

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