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WCPD Traffic Enforcement Gets Spotlight

In the wake of fatal truck-pedestrian accident, police association criticizes staff cuts that hurt traffic enforcement. Chief Bryden says WCPD is shorthanded temporarily, and will soon restore motorcycle officers.

The fatal accident in which a pickup truck hurtled onto a sidewalk into a group of pedestrians in front of the Marriott hotel Saturday is a reminder of the need for the city to restore traffic enforcement reductions from recent years, the local police union says.

In a Facebook post, the Walnut Creek Police Association stated: "Frustrating because we should have a dedicated group of traffic officers monitoring our streets for speeders and other traffic violators … The occasional beat officer will stop a car or two but only when they are not working service calls. Since service calls are at an all time high this basically means you will see little to no traffic enforcement anywhere in town."

Police Chief Joel Bryden, in a telephone interview Tuesday, said the police department has temporarily assigned motorcycle traffic officers to patrol "due to officers out on injury leave and other types of leave that leave us shorthanded."

Bryden added, "My main priority is to staff patrol fully. That's the best way to prevent crime and keep the community staff and the officers safe, with staff in all our neighborhoods. The next priority in the field is traffic enforcement." When the staffing situation improves this fall, Bryden said, the city will have four motorcycle officers, in two patrol teams, assigned to dayshift traffic enforcement six days a week.

'Walnut Creek can do better'

The association Facebook post also said: "Instead of ten traffic officers like we had a decade ago we have ONE! And that one is only for another week. After our normal shift rotation on September 15th we will not have any traffic officers left. One is retiring and the three that remain will all be assigned to work a regular patrol beat due to chronic staffing shortages. There will be no dedicated traffic enforcement in Rossmoor, school zones or along the commute routes … Many of our members are part of this community and our families are just as likely to be pedestrians as yours. A very sad and frustrating day indeed. Walnut Creek can do better.

"Our sincerest condolences go out to the victim’s family members that have lost a loved one today."
Pronounced dead at the scene was Sherry Hicks, 52, of Santa Barbara. Hicks' daughter-in-law is at John Muir Hospital in critical condition, police say.

Charged with vehicular manslaughter was the driver of the pickup, Hossein Tabrizi, 53, of Walnut Creek.

Dedicated teacher

Hicks and her husband were in Walnut Creek visiting their son and his new wife.

Hicks was the lead teacher for the Olive Grove Charter School's dual enrollment program at Santa Barbara City College, according to the Santa Maria Times. She specialized in math and worked individually with home-schooled high school students who were also enrolled in city college classes.

“A dedicated teacher, Sherry poured herself into her work and personally shepherded many Olive Grove students around the SBCC campus,” said Los Olivos School District Superintendent Marshal Filbin, as quoted in the Santa Maria Times.

Ralph Hoffmann September 13, 2012 at 04:06 PM
Postponement doesn't make sense. I'm walking over to City Hall to complain.
srl99 September 16, 2012 at 01:07 PM
Look both ways before proceeding on a green in WC! Lots of red light running! It seems to be just commonplace.
Derick Alexander October 23, 2012 at 08:44 PM
This is a very Ignorant statement associating one of the most well rounded businesses in Walnut Creek with a nightmare like this. Vice Ultra Lounge was not open this day so please get your facts straight before you sit behind a computer and attack local business.
obiwan October 24, 2012 at 03:37 PM
Derick - Police officers work a certain number of hours every week. Those hours can be spent on traffic patrol and serving the neighborhoods during the week, or from 11pm-2am babysitting bars on the weekends. Whether Vice was open on the day in question is irrelevant. It's still a drain on a limited number of police manhours.
michael frederick October 24, 2012 at 06:44 PM
Derick, At the DBA meeting the other night, one topic of conversation was the adverse impact upon "local business" -- all local business, not just someone's favorite watering hole -- of not dealing effectively with the public perception that WC has security issues. That's the threat "local busniess" is focused on. The only time bars, lounges, etc. were mentioned was when the topics of public safety, urination, and gum on the sidewalk came up.

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