Westfield Police receive grant to reduce accidents

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WESTFIELD, Mass. (The Westfield News) – The city’s police department received a grant to help reduce car accidents in the city.

The grant, which was for $25,000, came from the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security, Highway Safety Division (EOPSS/HSD). The grant is going to be used for a Sustained Traffic Enforcement Program (STEP), which Westfield Police Capt. Larry Valliere said will aim to reduce car accidents in certain problem areas. This effort is expected to include increased traffic enforcement with additional personnel located in those areas.

“We’ll pinpoint on the most serious problem areas and that’s where we will put our efforts,” Valliere said.

According to paperwork on the grant provided by the Westfield Police Department:

“[T]he STEP Grant provides funding for departments to conduct sustained, high-visibility, year-round traffic enforcement using data to focus sharply on specific times of year and days and locations when crashes and injuries are highest in their community.”

According to Valliere, the department will utilize the funds to attempt to fill 40 hours a week in additional enforcement. This could include utilizing radar and also stopping vehicles. Valliere said the effort will be to lower accidents, particularly rear-end collisions, which Valliere said happens frequently in Westfield, mostly due to three reasons.

“Inattentiveness, aggressive driving and texting,” Valliere said. “Because it’s not always speed that causes collisions.”

According to the grant paperwork, there are several grant program details. Some of the program details include enforcement that happens “at times and locations where the risk of a crash is most likely” and that the department is required to “conduct a minimum of three documented stops or contacts for each officer per hour,” though the paperwork said that “[n]othing in this grant program shall be interpreted as a requirement, formal or informal, that a law enforcement officer issue a specified or predetermined number of citations in pursuance of the department’s obligation associated with the grant.”

In addition, it is recommended that officers working under the grant-funded traffic enforcement be certified in radar or LiDAR speed measurement, can proficiently conduct standardized field sobriety tests and “have completed the Advanced Roadside Impaired Driving Enforcement (ARIDE) course.”

The rest of the paperwork, titled “FFY 2017 STEP Narrative (AGF),” which has the full list of requirements, as well as other documents, can be found on the EOPPS/HSD’s “FFY 2017 Sustained Traffic Enforcement Program (STEP)” website.

According to the application provided by Valliere, data showed that 73 percent of crashes occurred between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m., with peak levels between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. In addition, the frequency of crashes increased Wednesday through Friday, with December, January and February showing “a higher than normal amount of accidents.”

The locations listed:

  • North Elm Street
  • East Main Street
  • Elm Street
  • Southampton Road
  • Springfield Road
  • Main Street
  • Union Street
  • Western Avenue
  • Franklin Street
  • North Road

Intersections listed:

  • East Main Street and Little River Road
  • Holyoke Road and Springdale Road
  • Elm Street and Orange Street
  • Springfield Road and Union Street
  • Springfield Road and East Mountain Road
  • North Road and Southampton Road
  • Notre Dame Street and North Elm Street
  • Mill Street and West Silver Street
  • North Mountain Road and East Mountain Road

Valliere said that the enforcement will be starting by July 25.

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