By Scott Bolthouse — Hub Editor — ScottBolthouse@HuronHub.com
Traffic enforcement has always been a controversial division of a city or township’s police department.
The common thinking among the public is that the traffic enforcement division is only there to generate revenue.
However, the Huron Township Police Department says traffic enforcement is an important policing program that benefits the community in several ways.
The Huron Hub had the opportunity to do a ride-along with traffic enforcement in July 2014.
Sitting between north and southbound I-275 in a black, tinted Huron Township police Dodge Charger, veteran Officer Fred Yono explained the public’s typical view of traffic enforcement.
“Most people think it’s all a money generator,” said Yono.
“While that’s part of it, this work also benefits the community as well.”
The high-pitch squeal of the police car’s radar can be heard, signaling a vehicle traveling at a high rate of speed.
Yono steps on the pedal and the engine accelerates rapidly as he pulls over a car going ten-over the speed limit, which on I-275 is 70 mph.
“If you’re going ten over or more, you’re getting pulled over,” said Yono.
Yono works for the Huron Township Police Department’s traffic division, and while one of his main duties as a traffic officer is to write tickets which generate revenue, his job isn’t limited to those responsibilities alone.
Before joining Huron’s traffic division, Yono worked traffic in Van Buren Township for eight years.
“We do things within the community as well. I work with families on child safety and car seat inspection, and have also organized mock disasters,” said Yono.
A mock disaster is a training exercise where participants are challenged to test the actions they would take in the event of a specific disaster scenario.
“I would love to do a mock disaster here in Huron Township in the future. That was the best thing I have done in my career,” he said.
One of the things that also Yono is most proud of is the fact that the traffic division in Van Buren generated enough revenue to pay for itself while being an asset to the police department’s normal day-to-day operations.
“The traffic division in Van Buren solved problems, assisted on emergency runs and paid for itself,” said Yono.
“We helped to reduce accidents, assisted on other calls and tried to do good things in the community,” he said.
Yono explained that a traffic division is also about visibility.
When people see a police presence on the roads, they naturally slow down, and slower speeds means safer travel.
“We are looking to put one or two more people into traffic,” said Yono.
Chief of Police Everette Robbins had similar things to say about building the traffic division.
“We would like to (in the future) have a more full time traffic unit,” said Robbins.
“This agency is lucky to have a person with Officer Yono’s experience and knowledge,” said Robbins.
The traffic division in Huron doesn’t limit it’s patrols to the freeway, however.
“We work selective enforcement as well — if we receive complaints from citizens, we’ll patrol those high accident or high problem areas,” said Yono.
“I don’t just sit on the freeway. If someone is breaking into your house, I’m going,” he said.
Yono noted that the peaks times for speeders on I-275 is on the weekends, and that he doesn’t hand out many tickets to township residents.
Most of the speeders he pulls over are from Ohio. He also catches several travelers that are in a hurry to get to Cedar Point.
Not all speeders get the full brunt of a ticket. Yono hands out a lot of impeding traffic and five-over tickets. Drivers who are apologetic and aware of their actions tend to be let off with a lighter infraction.
In about two hours doing the ride-along, Officer Yono wrote twelve tickets and gave one warning.
As he handed out a ticket a ticket to a speeder, Yono received a response that many people probably wouldn’t expect.
“(The driver) thanked me very much,” said Yono. “You can’t beat that — that means we’re doing a good job.”