Douglas County commissioners scrutinize police traffic procedures
March 21, 2003
Even with fewer officers in Douglas County, new management practices adopted by the Nevada Highway Patrol have contributed to more citations and fewer traffic accidents, a deputy chief told Douglas County leaders Thursday.
“The process has been in progress since December and there have been steady decreases in accidents” under the new strategy, Major Bob Wideman, deputy chief of the Northern Command of NHP, said.
The department is undergoing stress statewide as more officers are needed in Southern Nevada while Northern Nevada is lower on the priority list. In fact, about 70 percent of all new officers hired are being required to take jobs in Southern Nevada, Wideman said.
Adopting a plan that is similar to the New York City Police Department’s, Wideman said the management style, called “Safestat” emphasizes accountability among patrol officers.
In the Lake Tahoe region where there are five patrol officers, there have been more citations issued, more patrol visibility and more education information available to the public, Wideman said.
Last year there were 1506 citations issues that went before the Tahoe Justice Court in Stateline and 3074 citations issued by the patrol that went to the Justice Court in Minden.
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Prior to the management changes, Wideman said the citation numbers had decreased.
In Douglas County, there were two traffic fatalities last year, including one at Cave Rock, he added.
While statistics weren’t available for the total number of traffic accidents in Douglas County, commissioners expressed concern over two intersections in the county that have been the site of several accidents.
Commissioner Bernie Curtis asked Wideman if he would consider forming a partnership with the county and the Nevada Department of Transportation when it comes to identifying intersections that are considered dangerous.
Curtis cited the intersection of Ironwood Drive and Highway 395 and the intersection of Airport Road and Highway 395 where many residents say they want traffic signals.
NDOT, which has done traffic studies of both intersections, has concluded that signals are not immediately needed.
“We’ve been pressing NDOT on this. We’ve had serious complaints and a county employee who nearly died,” Curtis said, referring to County Recorder Linda Slater. She was in an accident Aug. 21, 2001 at the Airport Road Intersection. Slater has since retired because of her injuries.
Wideman said he welcomed the opportunity to form a partnership to “advance these causes” of public safety.
In other action, commissioners approved a two-year extension to Heavenly Ski Resort on its design plans to develop 120 residential units near the Stagecoach lodge.
Plans to make improvements near the lodge have already been approved by commissioners prior to Vail Resorts’ buying Heavenly Ski Resort last year from American Ski Company.
Jeff Munson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org