New Police Traffic Unit Targets Aggressive, Distracted Drivers

When Jen Tooker ran for 1st Selectman last fall, one main issues was traffic.

This spring, she organized 9 meetings — one for each Representative Town Meeting — with high-level Police Department officials. Residents shared their biggest traffic concerns.

Tooker and Police leader separated the issues into 3 buckets: relatively simple fixes; those needing longer-term attention, and “sorry, unfortunately impossible.”

Starting soon, the Westport Police will have a tool for addressing one complaint they heard at every meeting: aggressive and distracted drivers.

A new Traffic Safety Unit will target “motor vehicle enforcement on area roadways.” Two officers — Scott Thompson and Dominique Carr — will devote all their time to traffic issues.

“Traffic safety has always been one of our top priorities,” says Police Chief Foti Koskinas.

“But our officers are very busy. They spend a lot of their time answering calls. We don’t want to assign someone to an hour at a particular location, then all of a sudden they have to respond to a call.

“So we’re re-allocating our resources. The Traffic Safety Unit officers will work strictly on this.”

AFter the 9 RTM meetings, Koskinas’ department identified 55 Westport sites where targeted enforcement could help. Some might be where drivers routinely plow through lights or stop signs; others might attract particularly aggressive or fast (even for Westport) drivers.

Rush hour — with commuter and school traffic — will be one of the highest priorities.

The traffic agent at Bedford Middle School may get some help from the new Traffic Safety Unit. (Photo/Adam Vengrow)

Officers Thompson and Carr will work regular shifts: 5 days on, 2 off. But those shifts will be staggered, so the Traffic Unit will operate 7 days a week. The officers will sometimes work alone, sometimes with other patrol cars.

“We realize traffic can be frustrating,” Koskinas says. “And coming out of COVID, we know that driving habits have changed.

“We think this Traffic Safety Unit will address what we’ve heard. And we continue to encourage feedback from residents about traffic, and how we address it.”

The new unit begins this week.

15 responses to “New Police Traffic Unit Targets Aggressive, Distracted Drivers

  1. This is excellent as these have become a real problem in Westport. Key to the unit’s success will be visible signs of motorists pulled over by the WPD for these violations.

  2. It happens constantly. Cars don’t want to wait at the light coming north at the intersection of Post Rd and Highpoint (at Cumberland Farms) so they speed thru the Cumberland lot and zoom out into Post Rd East. Several times people have narrowly been run down as they exited store. I have witnessed this numerous times!
    Every day especially around 4-6 pm this occurs. This unit of traffic safety could surely start there!!

    • Similar dangerous situation: Coffee An at corner of Main and Canal. Car southbound on Main approaching a red light at Canal St. intersection suddenly turns left and, without slowing, flies thru parking lot to enter Canal Street

  3. MaryAnn Meyer

    Please add the intersection of Post Road East and Church Street South to the list. Cars on Post Road typically run the red light which is very dangerous.

  4. Dan very timely, as I was hit head on and kissed the airbags in what must be one of those 55 black hole/Bermuda Triangle zones last nite- the intersection of Greens Farms and Sherwood Connector, where illegal homicidal left turns are a celebrated pagan practice. Luckily we are both OK, and just wanted to thank one of many Westports Finest, Officer Aliberti, who professionally managed the scene in a driving rain. What is suggested here is a fantastic and clever idea.

  5. PS not a single driver stopped and asked if they could help…oh such are our times…

    • Janine Burke

      Deej – I am so glad to hear all was OK. We were going through the intersection just as the police were arriving (I was about to stop when we saw the flashing lights so knew help was on the way). I always always wait until I see traffic stopping at that intersection before moving forward. So many folks thinking they are still on 95 as they plow through GF Road up the connector.

  6. Will they also take text pictures of people passing our cars in the lane of oncoming traffic? Twice in the last 6 weeks I was passed this way, as I drove the speed limit. Once after I took the left hand turn off Main Street onto Avery (NY plates) and once at the end of Harbor Road at that corner (have a picture of that plate). Nevermind all the times my husband and I have been tailgated on Kings Highway North (west of RT 33).

    • Really? So more people can break the law, speed, run through lights and stop signs?

  7. joshua stein

    Traffic enforcement is typically a revenue generating activity. It has to be executed in a certain way to actually have an impact on improving safety. That includes making police presence known, visible, and officers not just sitting in their cars, but actively patrolling. Revisits to known problem areas, not just a one-time visit.

    The issues in my opinion:
    1. Drivers not giving room to cyclists/pedestrians.
    2. Drivers crossing yellow line to go around cyclists/pedestrians with no regard for oncoming traffic
    3. Cyclists/pedestrians side-by-side way into roadway or on wrong side of road
    4. Drivers speeding through residential/high pedestrian traffic areas
    5. Aggressive truckers, trucks operating in unsafe manner, and trucks hitting overpasses

    Its 2022. The problem areas can be ascertained and strategically targeted during proper times. Heck, you can probably crowd source/take real time citizen input into a database and find patterns. WPD addressed some concerns I had over the past couple years in specific locations but after they were done with their few days of presence the issue returned immediately. You can’t boil the ocean and solve all problems. I think one mistake will be having the “Traffic Safety Unit officers will work strictly on this.” I do not think that will be effective. There is no problem with an officer being assigned for an hour (or two) at a location and then going to take a call. Much better than them sitting idle for an hour…

    • Joshua Stein

      6. Drivers that cover and obstruct the view out of their front windshield, side windows, and/ or rear windshield with stickers

  8. Stephanie Bass

    I strongly suggest traffic laws be prominently displayed and taught. Like who goes 1st at 4 way stop- and that 1-1-1-1 rule which is apparently a myth in Westport and a horror show down at the beach. And other rules and common courtesies. i swear, at every GREEN ARROW TO MAKE A LEFT, if more then 3 cars get to turn i feel i am having a good day. These new habits would help get rid of some road rage and personally save my horn from sounding like a sick calf who has lost his way. It won’t fix everything but would add to a better/safer driving experience for all.