Traffic cameras would be effective, but residents should still report persistent problems
By Jack Chavez, Staff Writer
(May 11, 2023) It may seem like a futile act after the fact, but the Berlin Police Department is still urging residents to call its non-emergency line when they see vehicles speeding through their community.
Mayor Zack Tyndall and Police Chief Arnold Downing led a brief discussion on Monday at the mayor and council meeting concerning speeding, especially as it relates to areas speed cameras areas should focus on as the process progresses.
“We’re talking about a lot of actual development for streets in residential areas,” Downing said. “When we do detail on certain streets, we find out that 35 to 40 percent (of speeders) are the individuals who live on those streets.”
Downing said in one instance where officers posted up on a “hot point” street, they observed two violators.
“We have to make sure that we’re using our manpower in the best way that we can,” Downing said.
Downing was alluding to one of the benefits of speed cameras being that they help alleviate the workload for a small town’s police force, whose officers may be better utilized elsewhere during their shift than sitting on speeding hot spots.
“We understand that during certain times, peak times, that means between 7:30 and 8:30 (in the morning) when everyone is going to the five schools in town, there is definitely a better need for enforcement,” Downing said. “But unfortunately, we can have 40 police officers and (still) not be able to handle that level of enforcement.”
“One parent that’s going from (Stephen Decatur) Middle School, to (Berlin Intermediate School) and then to Buckingham (Elementary School), you know, that’s a swoop. And then everybody’s rushing to Dunkin’ Donuts.”
Downing said originally it was thought the town would need to do requests for proposals for speed cameras but now the focus is on other contracts for sole providers of speed cameras.
“Our belief is that we can go ahead and make that call and bring forth a contract and start doing the study.”
Education, engineering and enforcement, Downing added, are “the three E’s” to consider.
Councilmember Dean Burrell brought up the traffic pattern at Stephen Decatur Middle School that now forces motorists to turn right out of the school, putting them on Flower Street.
It’s a new pattern that Downing said is very difficult to enforce.
“Everybody’s learned the pattern but again, you’re going to have kids in high school … who just come down because they didn’t want to wait for the crossing guards and then would turn right where Ocean’s East was and flip back around,” Downing said. “If we enforce it one way, they’re going to figure it out. No one’s going to go all the way down Flower Street and turn around to go back to West Ocean City.”
The point brought Councilmember Shaneka Nichols to the idea that residents should really report speeders.
“Talking to people (around town they’ve asked me about) speed bumps on the side roads,” Nichols said. “(We can’t do that) but however, start taking photos and making those calls.”
“If you happen to see where those cars circulate, call those people’s moms because that’s what I did.”
Downing added that police can better look for repeat offenders if they already have a vehicle description.
The number Downing provided was 410-621-1333.