Police chief says radar log shows most traffic traveling within a few miles per hour of posted limit
Saukville Police Chief Jeff Goetz took complaints about speeding on Hillcrest Road seriously, but his research showed there are other roads that pose greater risk to motorists.
In response to recurring complaints from a Hillcrest Road resident, Goetz told the village’s Public Safety Committee last week the department has given heightened attention to traffic on the road.
The transitional road allows traffic to travel 55 mph in the township, but the speed limit drops to 25 mph when it enters the village in the area of Highway 33.
In addition to assigning patrol cars to the road to monitor traffic, Goetz said he asked that village crews clear obstructing vegetation from along the roadway and place orange warning flags on the speed limit signs to draw the attention of drivers.
As a follow-up to an earlier speed study, he said the department also borrowed a pole-mounted radar device from the Grafton Police Department that surreptitiously tracked how fast vehicles were going in the 600 block of Hillcrest Road. The radar system was used from Aug. 26 to 30.
Goetz said the covert radar was used because the more conspicuous mounted speed boards are criticized for not being a true measure of how fast traffic routinely travels.
“I did not tell anyone we were using the camera, not even my officers,” he said.
The device logged 3,949 vehicles using the road during the test period, with the average speed inside the village limits at 27 mph.
The radar tracking showed traffic on the road tends to go faster on weekdays, between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m.
That confirmed earlier findings, and underlined Goetz’s contention that officer judgement is the most crucial component of traffic enforcement.
He bristled at the suggestion that other departments have a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to speeding.
Goetz checked with the New Berlin Police Department, which was pointed to as an example of a department that issues tickets for speeding just a few miles an hour over the limit, and said he was told the department has no such policy.
Officials with the Mid Moraine Municipal Court also told the chief they have not seen traffic citations for cases less than 10 mph over the posted limit.
“I will not take away officer discretion from the officers in my department, and will not order that they issue tickets for vehicles going 30 mph. It doesn’t make sense to take that discretion away,” Goetz said.
With heightened patrolling on the road, he said the department issued five tickets for speeding.
During that same length of time, officers issued 30 tickets on South Main Street, which has a much higher volume of traffic.
From the perspective of using manpower wisely, Goetz said the department does not have the luxury of focusing on one street.
“We try to fulfill all citizen requests, but we have to patrol the whole community as well,” he said.
“I don’t know what more we can do. Enforcement will continue there, but not at the cost of other areas.”
Trustee Mike Krocka, chairman of the committee, said he has been told by residents that traffic on Hillcrest Road has slowed down since the measures were put into place.
Committee member Stan Kulfan praised the thoroughness Goetz used in resolving the speeding complaint.
“I think you did an extraordinarily complete study of this issue. We are behind you 100%,” Kulfan said.