The Turlock Police Department is applying for an officer staff safety grant to help staff the traffic unit and prevent fatal collisions in Turlock.
“ was a very bad year for traffic related fatalities,” said Turlock Police Department Traffic Unit Supervisor Sgt. Neil Cervenka. “In total, there were eight fatal collisions leaving 10 Turlock residents dead."
The first fatal collision of 2014 occurred just over a year ago, when Elizabeth “Biffy” Mancha was struck and killed at Summerfaire Park. Since that day, nine more residents were killed in traffic related collisions.
While many of the collisions seemed similar, including two bicyclists hit by trains, two motorcyclists killed, and multiple pedestrians hit by drivers, the collisions are not the same, according to Cervenka.
There’s no two alike,” said Cervenka. “There’s no two in the same area of town with similar circumstances that we can address."
Through the review of the major traffic collisions in Turlock, authorities have determined that there is a “pedestrian and bicyclist problem,” although Cervenka does not place sole blame on Turlock residents.
“What we have determined is that we have a pedestrian and bicyclist problem in Turlock,” said Cervenka. “… It’s not an education issue, it’s an enforcement issue.”
To help mitigate the lack of enforcement, the Turlock Police Department is applying for an officer staff safety grant that would help increase staff on the traffic unit.
The application, which was started by Cervenka and completed by Sgt. Scott Ellis, who will replace Cervenka as traffic unit supervisor in a few weeks, requests $130,000 — $70,000 of which would be used for staff and overtime. According to Cervenka, that overtime would focus on bicycle and pedestrian safety.
“Generally speaking, one motor officer per every 10,000 people would create a robust traffic unit that would have a positive impact without causing undue resentment by the public,” said Cervenka. “However, that’s not realistic right now, we have three of us."
Cervenka mentioned several ideas the traffic unit has had to up enforcement, such as running traffic in the evening hours, however that would take away from traffic enforcement around schools in the morning.
The grant would allow the police department to saturate a specific area with officers to limit major traffic collisions and fatalities.