Calling the dramatic rise in traffic-related deaths in the District "needless and senseless," Assistant Chief of Police Isaac Fulwood Jr. yesterday formally announced that police have begun to crack down on speeders, red light runners and jaywalkers.
Fulwood, in an afternoon news conference, said that a new "intensified traffic enforcement program," scheduled to begin Monday, "has for all intents and purposes" already started, and that police are targeting areas in the city where flagrant violations frequently occur.
Fulwood acknowledged that over the years city police have placed a "decreased emphasis" on traffic violations that led to more fatalities and sparked an outcry from citizens who felt the District's streets were not safe to walk across or drive on.
Fulwood also spent part of the news conference defending the department's new "performance evaluation program," which sets "goals" for the number of tickets each officer should issue. Sources said the program states that officers should issue three moving violations and 50 parking tickets every four weeks.
He said that the start-up of the new evaluation and traffic programs, both of which officially go into effect April 1, was a "coincidence," and that the evaluation goals were not "quotas," but "realistic performance standards."
Fulwood said that motorist and pedestrian violations have been more frequent and flagrant "because people knew the police were not aggressive in their enforcement policy. We've changed that," he declared.
He said that in 1982 there were 36 traffic-related deaths, compared to 65 last year. But over the same period the number of traffic violations issued by police dropped from 183,255 to 135,304.
And while pedestrian deaths tripled from 11 in 1982 to 33 last year, the number of citations issued by police declined in the same years from 2,744 to 1,193, according to police.
Fulwood said that D.C. police will use a federal grant to fund overtime for police officers in a special unit of the traffic enforcement branch that will concentrate solely on stricter enforcement of traffic and pedestrian laws.