WESTOVER — The new Westover police department’s traffic radars are doing their job to help enforce the law, according to Westover police chief Richard Panico.
“It’s sending a signal to the people once they get a ticket or a warning, and they are seeing us not sitting there like we used to with the old radar gun,” he said. “They are seeing us moving with them, and they are well aware that we have something technical that is going to be able to move into that direction.”
At Monday’s Westover city council meeting, Panico reported 90 traffic stops and 70 issued citations in the last three weeks.
By comparison, from July 2 to July 16, the department reported 27 traffic stops at the city council meeting held on July 16. From Jun 18 to July 2, the department had reported 36 traffic stops at the July 2 council meeting. These were two week periods.
“It’s basically bringing more money into the city that we normally wouldn’t get because we didn’t have the technology to catch these people while we are moving that we do now,” he said.
“We don’t do policing because of revenue, but I will say these things have been sliding by because of the lack of radar, and now we have the revenue that’s going to help us by more equipment that’s going to keep us online. That’s a big, enormous boost above where we were.”
Panico said the numbers of traffic stops do not include interstate.
“We aren’t doing interstate. This is all in Westover, on the side streets and the main streets,” he said. “The whole idea for this was to manage the traffic, since we are having a huge amount of traffic, and we have a lot more people running red lights because of this, and we have a lot more people speeding to catch the red lights—we started focusing on Fairmont Road, Holland Avenue and Dunkard.
“Then we go to the back streets…we’ll sit down there, and as we move forward, we can pick up the speed coming toward, or if we get something behind us that doesn’t know we are a police car just because it’s night. As soon as we hit the lights, they slow down, but we’ve already got them.”
Panico said the use of the radars was a no-brainer for the police force because it allowed them to better manage and support the community through traffic enforcement.
“It’s traffic enforcement more than anything,” he said. “Just letting people know there are vehicles out there that are equipped to deal with this stuff. It’s not like it used to be.
“It cost a total of $3,600 and we just made it back in the first three weeks writing tickets.”
Council members Al Yocum, Ralph Mullins and Leonard Smith were not in attendance at that council meeting.
In other business:
• Westover Police Chief Richard Panico said the department had answered over 700 calls in the last period, covering the three weeks between July 16 and August 6. City court had brought in $5,920 in city court. There were 14 parking complaints, nine warrants with some cooperation between the county and state and 15 domestic or disturbance complaints.
• Panico said seven candidates out of eleven for the police officer position had passed the physical exam and would take the written exam at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, August 7. He said the department had to hire one officer before September 15, the deadline for Police Academy sign-ups.
• City code enforcement official Jason Stinespring said he had issued 22 permits. He said the city had cut one property owner’s grass and billed him for it, and other owners had been asked to cut the grass or cited. He said they had condemned two properties for lack of water and livable conditions, and he said a third property would be condemned soon.
• City Clerk Sandra Weis said the West Virginia state auditor’s office had approved Ferrari and Associates to do the Westover audit for 2016, 2017 and 2018. She said they would be coming to do 2016 and 2017 on August 13, 14 and 15, and they will complete 2018’s audit at a later date.
• Mayor Johnson asked council to remove the tennis court bids from the agenda until spring. He said the companies bidding to complete renovations to the tennis court could not begin until late fall, and the city would not have time to finish renovations before winter. The renovations would allow pickleball courts to go on half of the tennis court.
• There was no old business.
• City council voted unanimously to remove the tennis court renovations from the agenda and to wait until spring to begin the renovations and choose a bid.
The next Westover city council meeting will be held at 6 p.m. on August 20 in the Westover City Building.