11/16/10 — Chief: Nine miles over speed limit not likely to earn drivers a citation

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Chief: Nine miles over speed limit not likely to earn drivers a citation

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on November 16, 2010 1:46 PM

Driving nine miles per hour over the speed limit probably won't get you pulled over by Goldsboro police officers -- and in the event they do stop you, a verbal warning is far more likely than a ticket.

That was the message passed from police Chief Tim Bell to members of the City Council Monday evening when, during a discussion about traffic management, City Engineer Marty Anderson unwrapped data that has been collected along Spence Avenue since it was reopened.

"It's very interesting," Anderson told the board, before getting into the findings that ultimately led to a back-and-forth about how to reduce speeding within the city limits.

Since Spence was reopened -- a portion of the road, near its intersection with Elm, had been closed for months as the city worked to replace failed infrastructure under the street -- 11 citations have been issued along it.

But when the council was told that the average speed of travelers was 34 mph -- the speed limit is 25 -- and that the highest speed clocked was more than 67 miles per hour, Bob Waller questioned why enforcement is seemingly not slowing people down.

"We've had complaints for 10 years," he said.

Bell responded, assuring the council that officers do patrol Spence "close to daily."

"And we will continue to run radar there," he said.

But when he explained that whether or not a person gets a ticket is left up to the officer who witnesses the infraction, the chief got a mixed response.

"At 34, that person might get stopped, they might not ... and they probably won't," he said. "Whether or not a ticket is written is up to the discretion of the officer."

And in most cases, he added, unless the speed is "excessive," drivers who speed are let off with a verbal warning -- or not pulled over at all.

Mayor Pro Tem Chuck Allen defended the practice.

"You're after people who are going excessively fast. That's who you're after," he said.

And Spence, he added, almost lends itself to speeding.

"Unfortunately, it's a thoroughfare running through a residential neighborhood," Allen said.

Waller didn't seem satisfied.

"It's 25," he said of the speed limit on Spence. "We need to show that we mean business."