BERLIN – Police Chief Arnold Downing says his department needs input from the public to address safety concerns in town.
In response to concerns from elected officials regarding speeding in Berlin now that school is back in session, Downing encouraged citizens to call the town’s police department to report suspicious or unsafe activity.
“Help us,” Downing said. “We’ll definitely go ahead and be waiting at the end of the street.”
At the close of Monday’s council meeting, Councilman Dean Burrell told Downing he’d seen speeding in town in recent weeks as people hurried to get to and from schools. He said he’d seen one vehicle traveling at what he estimated was 60 mph on Branch Street.
“It is a dangerous situation with children waiting at the bus stop to have a vehicle going that fast,” he said.
Downing encouraged those who saw an incident such as the one Burrell referenced to call his department. He said that if they did police could call the sheriff’s deputy on duty at the school or make contact with the drivers themselves. He pointed out that oftentimes the speeders were teenagers.
“Younger individuals are very easy to go ahead and work with because we speak to parents…,” he said. “Parent pressure can stop a whole lot of things.”
Downing said motorists often traveled the same route every day, which made it easy for officers to interact with them. He said the speeder Burrell had seen likely travelled Branch Street every day and he could have an officer monitor the street for speeding in the future.
“This has been the best way for us to go ahead and combat people speeding because it’s no way we’re going to be on every street every day,” he said. “Someone asked me ‘you have two new knees how are you going to go ahead and catch all these young guys running?’ I said I can’t catch them but I can wait for them at their mama’s house. I think that same concept’s going to help us here.”
While speeding may have been on the rise lately, Economic and Community Development Director Ivy Wells told the council Monday that parking issues associated with special events had decreased thanks to new restrictions. She said that in advance of last weekend’s Small Town Throw Down, staff had put up temporary “no parking” signs on Washington, West and Grace streets that kept vehicles from hindering accessibility on those roads. She also thanked the Berlin Fire Company for opening up its property for parking in exchange for a donation from those using it.