Police address traffic complaints

Lt. David Hartman
Lt. David Hartman heads the Wilton Police Department’s Selective Enforcement Unit (SEU).

Selective enforcement is nothing new to Wilton — the Wilton Police Department has been conducting it for more than 20 years — but for the last three years, selective enforcement efforts have been more focused on residents’ concerns.

The Wilton Police Department’s selective enforcement unit (SEU) addresses “areas of concern [based on] residents’ complaints or concerns,” Lt. David Hartman told The Bulletin.

“Usually, we get a call or email from a resident expressing a concern about a traffic problem, and we put it into a database that allows us to keep track of those locations,” said Hartman.

“We then put that out to our officers and they go out and do what we call ‘selective enforcement,’ where they do motor vehicle enforcement in those particular locations.”

Hartman is in charge of monitoring the SEU. This, he said, includes “making sure officers are addressing the concerns of the residents.”

“I get reports from the officers when they do a selective enforcement detail or enforcement at a specific location,” said Hartman.

“There’s a form that they fill out that gets turned in to me. They let me know the day, the time, the location — and then I keep track of misdemeanors, infractions, and warnings.”

Hartman said he then logs all the information into a database that tracks SEU areas, the amount of time officers spend doing selective enforcement in those areas, and “the amount of enforcement that they are able to accomplish.”

Each month, Hartman puts together a report for Wilton’s police commissioners so they “can review the officers’ work and the selective enforcement,” and also see how the department is addressing residents’ concerns, he said.

Years ago, “a lot of the SEU complaints” were handled by the police department’s traffic division, said Hartman — but that division no longer exists, so SEU complaints are now handled by patrol officers “in between calls and throughout their days.”

During their assigned patrol shifts, Hartman said, Wilton officers have “the ability at any time … to go and do some enforcement at one of the SEU locations.” Although their main responsibility is to patrol their assigned areas, said Hartman, SEU enforcement is “part of their routine patrol function.”

“We try to keep the officers in their patrols and address the SEU locations in their specific patrols,” said Hartman.

Hartman said one of the main goals of SEU is to “gain voluntary compliance of the law.”

“It’s not necessarily about writing a ticket, he said. “It may be about stopping a car and making contact — creating a discussion with the person, bringing their driving habits to light, and helping curb those habits.”

SEU areas

Wilton police have conducted nearly 80 SEU stops so far this month.

The intersection of Route 7 and Catalpa Road has had the highest number of SEU stops so far this month with six stops this month, according to Wilton police blotter data.

The intersection of Route 7 and Gaylord Drive had four SEU stops so far this month, the second-highest this month.

An example of a selective enforcement location in town, said Hartman, is the Route 7 and Route 33 intersection.

“A complaint we get at that location is that people are running the red light,” he said, “so we have officers go up there, sit at the intersection, monitor traffic flow, and take enforcement action or make motor vehicle stops on vehicles that run the red light.”

Residents with traffic concerns in their neighborhood are encouraged to reach out to the police department.

“I’m the one they should address their concern to — or the front desk [at police headquarters], and the concern will make its way to me,” said Hartman.

“We’ll put their concerns on our SEU assignment sheet and try to get officers in their neighborhoods … to address them.”

The Wilton Police Department is at 240 Danbury Road. The phone number is 203-834-6260.

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