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Stepping up on the streets

Washington State Patrol Trooper Eric Ludlow clocks drivers’ speeds on State Route 3. WSP, along with law enforcement agencies across the state, are stepping up patrols for the X-52 sustained enforcement patrol. - Photo by Jesse Beals/file photo 2007
Washington State Patrol Trooper Eric Ludlow clocks drivers’ speeds on State Route 3. WSP, along with law enforcement agencies across the state, are stepping up patrols for the X-52 sustained enforcement patrol.
— image credit: Photo by Jesse Beals/file photo 2007

By RACHEL BRANT

Staff writer

The numbers are in for the first X-52 sustained enforcement patrol in Kitsap County.

Seventeen officers from the Kitsap County Traffic Safety Task Force made 285 contacts and issued 160 citations for speeding Wednesday, Feb. 20, in Bremerton. Officers from the Bremerton, Bainbridge and Poulsbo police departments, Kitsap County Sheriff’s deputies and Washington State Patrol troopers participated in the first patrol of many during the next 52 weeks.

The statewide strategy, X-52, is aimed at decreasing serious injury and fatality collisions with a focus on impaired and speeding drivers.

“Law enforcement is out there to help keep people safe and keep the roadways safe,” said Carolyn Pence, Kitsap County Traffic Safety Task Force coordinator.

During the next 52 weeks, law enforcement agencies across the state will step up their enforcement patrols in hopes of taking more impaired or speeding drivers off the roads.

“Hopefully they’ll get the message — ‘there’s extra enforcement, I better slow down,’” Pence said.

Kitsap County had 22 fatality collisions last year and four already reported for 2008. With extra enforcement on the roadways, Pence said she hopes that number decreases.

“Half of our fatalities were as a result of speeding,” she said. “Hopefully we’ll bring that number down.”

The extra patrols are funded through a grant from the Washington Traffic Safety Commission (WTSC). Law enforcement agencies including state patrol, sheriffs’ offices, police departments and Tribal Nations are receiving $450,000 in extra federal funding for the X-52 enforcement. Kitsap County agencies are receiving more than $17,000 to participate in the stepped-up patrols.

“There’s a lot of research in other states that shows results from sustained emphasis patrols versus short-term efforts such as ‘Drive Hammered, Get Nailed’ or ‘Click It or Ticket,’” WTSC Director Lowell Porter stated in a news release.

During the X-52 enforcement, municipal law enforcement agencies, tribal law enforcement agencies and WSP will work together to cite impaired and speeding motorists. Officers from various agencies will saturate areas known to have speed and DUI problems, so a Poulsbo Police Department officer can cite or arrest a driver breaking the law in Bremerton.

“We’re not just going to be randomly choosing areas,” Pence said. “It’ll be based on areas with a high number of collisions.”

Pence added that X-52 “will help raise awareness and get the message out” to drivers. She said if the federal funding is available, she hopes the state will do X-52 every year.

“Our goal is to have zero traffic fatalities on our roads and X-52 will help get us there,” Porter stated.

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