Grant helps Janesville police monitor motorists

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Jason Smathers
Monday, August 30, 2010
— Todd Bouton was a little busy Thursday night.

He was rushing back from Beloit to pick up his son from day care. Then he was supposed to run out to catch another kid at his football scrimmage.

Unfortunately for him, he was rushing a little too fast. And on the wrong day.

Janesville police were clocking overtime all-day Thursday to catch speeding drivers in the act. The extra enforcement was thanks to a $25,000 grant from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, designed specifically to help officers slow speeding cars. Police issued 22 citations and three warnings over the course of the day.

Bouton was pulled over on Garfield Street after being clocked at about 10 miles over the 25 mph limit on East Racine Street outside of St. John Vianney’s Catholic Church.

“I don’t think I’ve gotten a ticket in 15 years,” Bouton said. “The only thing in Wisconsin is that I got pulled over a few years ago for an expired sticker, and that was dismissed.”

Bouton got off with just a warning because he wasn’t going too far over the limit and had a clean driving record. Officer Chris Armstrong said he usually gives just a warning if it’s their first time. Unless, that is, they’re hitting speeds 12-15 mph over the limit.

One of the requirements of the grant, administered in part by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, is that officers working under the grant are mandated to make at least one stop every 45 minutes.

It took only 45 seconds for Armstrong to nab his first violator.

The paperwork took far longer. Even with a computerized system for documentation, writing the narrative, filling in the information about the offender, printing the citation and testing the radar gun with tuning forks takes about 20 minutes.

Then it’s back to the parking lot to tag another offender.

“This isn’t exactly what they show you on ‘Cops,’ is it?” Armstrong said while filling out paperwork.

Police targeted areas with high accident rates or heavy traffic.

East Racine Street happens to be both.

Not only does the quick decrease in speed limits from the Interstate happen to go unnoticed by drivers, but also the street is close enough to Craig High School and Roosevelt Elementary School to concern officers.

Teenagers with new licenses soon will start driving the four-lane street.

Armstrong understands the worry: His daughter got her license a few months ago. He trusts her, but he can’t help but worry.

“She’ll say, ‘I’m going to drive over here,’ and I’ll just say, ‘OK, well, come back quick!’” Armstrong said.

Armstrong makes sure to tell drivers he stops that school is starting soon so they should be extra careful going through the area.

While the drivers stopped vary in their response—Armstrong said the night shift usually gets testier drivers than the day shift—Bouton was more upbeat, even before learning he wouldn’t get ticketed.

“I love when they play speed bumps,” Bouton said.

“I think we need that once in awhile.”

Last updated: 2:36 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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