At the Town Hall last week, Chief Perez gave a presentation on Public Safety and Noise, I'll write on the Public Safety issues here.
The city has placed crime maps on www.wmpd.org and these maps are refreshed weekly. I would like to see maps on the site in other frequencies, such as monthly and yearly. I do know that they're generated as the officers who present to the Central Area Neighborhood Association will bring them in on paper. CANA was trying to keep them on the website, but their links are at this point from October through December of 2008.
The city is divided for police purposes in two districts, East and West. They will patrol the areas divided by NE 6th Avenue and the South End of Wilton Drive. The officers that I see patrolling my neighborhood and the Drive do seem to be the same ones all the time. Nice folks who really do care about our little City.
The facts are that burglary in the city is down. This is attributed to increased patrol by the officers. I have seen the same car make more passes down my street during the day, and it seems like every time I am out on the Drive walking the dog, you will see the cruisers.
On the other hand, robbery and calls for service are up. These would be two different issues. The Robbery are people coming in from outside and mugging people. This kind of opportunistic crime is up due to the Republican Induced Great Depression our world economy is experiencing. People don't have money so they are trying to take ours. Be aware of your surroundings. It is pretty easy to know in Wilton Manors when someone just "doesn't belong" or things "just don't look right".
Service calls are people calling into the Police department asking for anything from a real crime in progress call to a "Cat Stuck Up In A Tree" kind of thing. I'm not really sure what would explain that statistic other than the people here being as involved in the city as we tend to be are comfortable with speaking with our officers. We have had some important laws passed lately that changed how the quality of life was effected, such as noise ordinances, and the specific peculiarities about parking and people could be reporting and asking for service on those sorts of issues.
The pedestrians that are crossing mid-block are causing more accidents. This has been a well known problem with Wilton Drive, and I personally have seen this happen on Andrews Avenue frequently. The blocks here are long and people will just step out into traffic to get to the other side. All three major North-South thoroughfares are wide and as a result it will take longer to get across.
FDOT is willing to put in mid-block crosswalks for us when the city approves it. This can happen with or without taking back the drive. What would be best in this interim would be to have them put in the crosswalks and signage like is down at the beach in Ft Lauderdale on A1A. In Florida, just like every other state, the Pedestrian does have the right of way in the crosswalks. The signage states that you are Required to stop, merely not a suggestion!
Wilton Drive especially is a problem. The block just south of NE 6th Avenue at the end of the Shoppes at Chic Optique seems to be a "Logical Place" for people to Jaywalk. People are going from the bars on one side of the street to the other and I suspect that there is an urgency that is caused by a certain amount of alcohol. The light at NE 6th and our four way crosswalk is not all THAT far away. This will be helped if the City adopts the Two Lane Initiative as presented by Wilton Manors Main Street. As a part of the proposed plan, the Drive will be narrowed to two lanes, there will be medians with plantings and trees, and there will also be mid block crosswalks. While you can die being struck from a car at 20mph or 40mph, the slower expected speeds will help lower accidents. Chief Perez did say that when a pedestrian comes out from behind a tree the driver sees a tree moving. Don't hide behind a tree when you have the chance, it will only confuse the drivers.
In Wilton Manors, traffic enforcement is done heavily on Wilton Drive. There are even comments on the traffic stopping websites about it. So be it, a posted 30mph is not 45.
Within a five week period, there were:
262 speeding violations,
25 moving violations, and
49 non-moving violations.
ticket production is up 24%
That is a lot of tickets.
The new message board has been purchased with some of these funds, and they have been used in the past to warn drivers that traffic laws would be strictly enforced, as well as to let them know that there are events and changes due to construction.
As for the Two Lane Initiative, Chief Perez believes that from a Law Enforcement standpoint, two lames will slow traffic down. Chief Perez said that "two lanes would be fantastic but we need all the other pieces to slow traffic too". Narrowing the Drive is not a one size fits all solution but it is a significant part.