TPD starts traffic safety patrols

Fatal hit and run. Photo courtesy WXTL-TV

One week ago, the Tallahassee Police Department arrested a man linked to a fatal hit-and-run that killed Florida State University student Blake Bennett. Now, TPD is on the verge of keeping pedestrians crossing the street safely and out of harm’s way by patrolling high-traffic areas.

Last week’s crash that happened on the 2600 block of West Pensacola Street was the third hit-and-run in Tallahassee in November.

TPD intends to patrol 10 locations around Tallahassee where most accidents happen, utilizing 20 different officers spreading out to prompt pedestrians to press the button, cross the road at the right time, and follow proper bicycle safety rules.

TPD officer Issac Boykin said the goal is to prevent accidents.

“I hope pedestrians realize, ‘Hey, maybe I shouldn’t dart out on the street if there’s a crosswalk available.’ And if someone has a bicycle but doesn’t have a light, by all means, contact me, and I’ll get a light to put on your bicycle,” Boykin said during a conversation with WTXL-TV.

The intention is not to give out tickets but to educate pedestrians about the laws of the road.

The traffic safety patrol is scheduled to end in February 2021.

Keyana Fowler, a resident at Seminole Trails, is hopeful that TPD’s safety patrols will be effective.

“The increase in police patrolling the roadways to alleviate and reduce the amount of reckless driving on the roads is a good idea, but only if the officers intend to establish it as a long-term initiative and not short-term. The patrolling will make drivers and myself more aware while driving so that I won’t end up with a citation. The hit-and-run that just happened was right by my apartment. That could have been me or anybody else that lives around this neighborhood. I usually walk to the Shell on the corner at night,” said Fowler.

Cross walk signal. Photo courtesy News Talk Florida

Leon County is on the top 25 list of areas with the most fatal or substantial crashes.

The police departments have wanted to approach the increasing number of collisions for some time, Boykin said. Last week’s hit-and-run was the final straw for TPD.

Jasmine Staton, a resident at Alight West Tennessee, said she’s concerned about the number of accidents that have occurred over the past year.

“I feel as if TPD should have been patrolling these different areas that have had multiple accidents. Why now is TPD all of a sudden trying to make an effort? Tallahassee drivers tend to drive recklessly, rarely follow the laws, and I believe that’s the main problem. On top of police not; being consistent with staying in these high traffic areas. They stay with us for one day, and that’s all. That leaves drivers to go back to driving how they usually drive after the police leave the area. If the TPD is going to patrol these areas, we have to continue to do it — not stop after three months because that is not enough,” Staton said.