California Police Chief- Fall 2013 - Page 11

left-right  Cpl. Pete Scatena (Hillsborough PD), Ofc. Travis Murray (FCPD), Deputy Craig McCarty (SMSO), Officer Mike Cecchi (Belmont PD), Officer Nick Kempel (Burlingame PD), Officer Aaron Wong (SBPD), Officer Jesse Ledesma (SSF PD), Cpl Don Olsen (SSF PD), Officer Chris Grant (Colma PD), Deputy Todd Schindler (SMSO), Deputy Rick Cheechov (SMSO), Officer Jenna Grimaldi (FCPD), Sgt. Jay Kiely (Burlingame PD) In response to shrinking budgets and staffing levels within their respective agencies, the San Mateo County Police Chiefs and Sheriff Association launched the San Mateo County Saturation Traffic Enforcement Program (STEP). STEP is a collaborative effort composed of traffic enforcement personnel from all of the law enforcement agencies in San Mateo County. The mission of the program is to increase traffic safety on the Peninsula in problem areas and intersections through saturated enforcement utilizing the combined resources from all of the county law enforcement agencies thus complimenting the efforts of the individual agencies. Participating officers are assigned to areas requiring selective enforcement in San Mateo County based on collision data, community complaints, and expert officer opinion. The expectation is that this collaborative monthly effort will provide immediate and tangible solutions to traffic issues, and creating a safer San Mateo County for motorists and pedestrians. Collision data provided by participating agencies revealed in 2011, in excess of 1,939 motorists and pedestrians were injured due to traffic collisions in the county. STEP’s mission is to significantly reduce these numbers through joint enforcement deployments and public education. Sheriff Greg Munks stated “The Sheriff’s Office appreciates the opportunity to work with our partner law enforcement agencies in keeping our communities safe. As we have expanded our municipal law enforcement contracts, it has helped us increase the safety of the public through traffic enforcement.” STEP deployments occur on the third Wednesday of every month, and all participating agencies liaison with the Burlingame Police Department, in order to coordinate the various enforcement resources, and to identify specific traffic problems in San Mateo County communities. Redwood City Police Chief JR Gamez said, “The STEP program developed by the Burlingame Police Department has been a game changer in San Mateo County. The ability to have sufficient resources to effectively execute our traffic enforcement mission has been an added dimension that allows our motorists and residents to feel safer.” The goal of the STEP Program is to enhance traffic safety efforts in our county, and provide an opportunity to address critical traffic safety issues with an increased level of enforcement resources. Based on this strategy, communities throughout San Mateo County are experiencing progressive strides towards safer streets. One of the participating agencies is the Belmont Police Department where Chief Dan DeSmidt said, “Through the STEP program we can expand our traffic enforcement resources exponentially to address specific problem areas in each community.” Since the inception of the STEP Program on January 16th 2013, 16 deployments have taken place in nearly every city on the Peninsula, focusing on problem traffic areas and complaints. Over the course of the past 16 months, this collaborative initiative issued 2,961 traffic citations and countless warnings throughout San Mateo County. It is noteworthy that in spite of the remarkably high number of traffic stops and citizen contacts, there has only been one formal complaint filed. According to San Mateo County District Attorney Steven M. Wagstaffe, “The STEP effort has been an effective program for enhancing public safety in our county. STEP personnel have made SPRING 2014 | California Police Chief 11