Law enforcement slows down traffic

  • Published
  • By Lois Walsh
  • 96th Air Base Wing Public Affairs
On-base drivers couldn't help but notice an active 96th Security Forces presence on the roadways around the base last week.

Active-duty personnel and Department of Defense police from the squadron were out in force, and in plain sight, Thursday and Friday, to enforce the posted speed limits from gate to gate. And it won't be the last time you see them.

Excessive speed, cell phone use while driving and littering (including cigarette butts) were just some of the infractions detected by officials as the squadron places emphasis on its roots, law enforcement, after several years of other issues taking precedence.

"After Sept. 11, our resources changed, we were more focused on anti-terrorism activities and resource protection," said 1st Lt. Robert Przybysz, operations officer. "Law enforcement had taken a back seat."

But not anymore.

Lieutenant Przybysz emphasized it is the responsibility of SFS to enforce all laws, regulations and state statues. In particular they are charged with the safety of the roadways.

Speeding and other traffic violations such as use of cell phones while driving were on the rise and the potential was there to compromise safety. So, during the 101 Critical Days of Summer campaign, it was time to resurrect Operation Coyote, a plan which included using radar to track speed on Eglin Boulevard. The radar uses laser precision, pinpointing the exact vehicle and its speed. It can be a powerful deterrent.

"Usually, it's like there's a pace car from either gate," said Senior Master Sgt. Gregory Morgan, operation superintendent. "Once one driver starts, it's a dead run and all the cars behind flow because they think the lead vehicle is the only one to get a ticket."
More than 100 cars were pulled over for speeding while the operation was in effect.

Besides speed, the SFS enforced other statues.

"We ran into a lot more than speeders," Sergeant Morgan said. "It's a myriad of things--some didn't have seatbelts, or licenses were suspended or the driver had no insurance; it was the whole gamut of incidents."

Lieutenant Przybysz said the operation was not a "sting" operation; all law enforcement personnel were in clear sight and located on the longest stretch of roadway with a consistent speed limit.

"We're not quota based, we're not generating any revenue," the lieutenant said. "We can deter by our presence. However, if it takes someone two-tenths of a mile to slow down, they're going too fast."

Sergeant Morgan said if drivers travel the speed limit, don't litter, or talk on their cell phone, they won't have a problem.

"Just because the guy in front is doing 60 mph doesn't mean you have to follow," he said. If the DOD police have to stop outbound traffic and the driver is doing 45 mph in the 25 mph zone, you're not going to be able to stop. There's too much activity around those gates for someone not to pay attention."

Drivers can expect continue traffic-rule enforcement and SFS presence throughout the summer. But, the officers aren't ready to give away any secrets on what operation is planned next.

"The bottom line is integrity is doing the right thing when we're not looking, and drivers should be doing the right thing all the time," Lieutenant Przybysz said.