October 8, 2009 in Washington Voices

Speeding’s a drag

Neighbors can help cops slow lead-footed drivers
By The Spokesman-Review
Dan Pelle photo

Mike Dunn said he is concerned for the safety of his neighborhood because a neighbor has been driving a Corvette down the street at excessive speeds. Dunn lives with his girlfriend, Rena Perez.danp@spokesman.com
(Full-size photo)

What to do

 To report a speeding problem in your neighborhood, first find out which jurisdiction you live in.

 If you live in the city of Spokane, call (509) 625-4150 and leave a message on the Spokane Police Department’s traffic complaint hot line. The hot line is monitored daily.

 Residents of Spokane Valley should call the front desk at the Spokane Valley Police Department at (509) 477-3300.

 Residents of unincorporated Spokane County should call the front desk at the Spokane Sheriff’s Department at (509) 477-2240.

 Please have the specific time, date and location (block or intersection) of the speeding incident ready when you call – the make and model of the car and a license plate, if possible, is also helpful.

 Also, leave your own full name, address and phone number.

 Neighborhood concerns about signage, street construction, speed bumps and crosswalks fall under the local street department, not the police department.

Rena Perez is furious: She has just about had it with a particular speeder in her neighborhood.

Over the past month, she said she has watched the same late model Corvette fly down the southwest Spokane Valley residential street she lives on, oblivious to children playing and families hanging out in their front yards.

“It started about three weeks ago – all the kids were out playing and he went by really fast,” said Perez, sitting in her living room on Saturday. “We gave him a look – usually that’s enough to get people to slow down – but 20 minutes later he came by again, going even faster.”

At that point, Perez said, neighbors came outside and everyone agreed to call Crime Check.

“Two days later, the same thing happened again, and we all called again,” said Perez. “Then five days later it happened again. One of my neighbors told police he’d just go talk to the guy, if they didn’t come out – then they did.”

When Spokane Valley police visited Perez, they also paid a visit to the Corvette owner and came back telling her he’d promised to slow down.

“The officers also told us his license is suspended and that he’s out on bail,” said Perez. “It’s crazy the speed he is going at, and the street is full of children.”

Two days later, Perez said, the Corvette came roaring down the street once again.

Perez said that more than 14 children live within her two blocks of East 14th Avenue just east of Havana Street.

“I just don’t want anyone to get hurt,” Perez said. “I don’t want this to be one of those times where we knew there was a problem, but no one did anything, and then something bad happened.”

Fear of retaliation often keeps people from contacting police, said Sgt. Dale Golman of the Spokane Valley Police Department, which makes it even more difficult for police to do anything. The best thing neighbors can do to help police stop a habitual speeder is to write down as many details as possible about the recurring offense, most important a specific date and time. This may help establish a pattern of behavior.

“I do encourage people to call us,” Golman said. “The more specific they are the better. And if we can get people to show up in court with what they have, then we can sometimes do something even if we don’t catch the speeder in the act.”

Golman visited with Perez on Saturday and promised to put in a special traffic request for her. Golman also made it clear that there’s little police can do unless they catch a speeder in the act.

A traffic request means officers and traffic units will be especially vigilant in the area where speeding is a problem. Residents can file a traffic request on their own by contacting the police department.

“Unfortunately, we don’t have the resources to have a guy sitting out here waiting for the speeder, every day,” Golman said. He added that speeding in residential areas is one of the most common complaints the police department gets, and it is often just as frustrating for officers as it is for residents.

Perez said talking to police reassured her a little, but she remains frustrated.

“I can’t believe nothing can be done about this,” Perez said. “What scares me is that the speeding is still happening.”

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