District 3· Problem Oriented Public Safety
The State Patrol’s style of community policing is called Problem Oriented Public Safety, or POPS. The foundation of POPS is based on a philosophy of taking the concerns of the motoring public by addressing persistent problems. When a problem is identified by a citizen, trooper, or anyone with a concern, the POPS trooper works with other agencies and groups to develop the best achievable solution to address the origin of the problem. Solutions to various problems may range from simply educating the public to major construction projects.
Projects and Successes
In District 3 there are actively working on four problem solving projects. All of the projects are directly related to the WSP strategic plan for the field operations bureau. The troopers in southeastern Washington are committed to reducing the amount of fatality collisions in our communities.
Throughout the region there are unmarked, unconventional vehicles that are looking for apprehending those motorists that are driving aggressively. We know that speed is a large contributor to causes for collisions. Trooper Shane Nelson has opened a project in the Tri-Cities to address the community and employer concern of aggressive driving on SR 240 leading to and away from the Hanford Reservation. This roadway has experienced an increase in complaints and collisions. The WSP is working with local agencies, Department of Transportation, and Hanford to improve awareness and education. Troopers have been deployed to conduct emphasis patrols using patrol cars, unmarked vehicles and motorcycles.
SR 241 Crossroads
The Sunnyside detachment lead by Sergeant Tom Foster has opened a project to address the reoccurring issue of collisions on SR 241. Most of the intersecting roadways on SR 241 involve stop signs. It was observed that there had seemed to be an increase in collisions. Sergeant Foster has partnered with Department of Transportation and County Road staff to address the issue. Several improvements have been made on key intersections including striping, oversized signs, keeping weeds cut back to increase visibility and strict enforcement. The efforts have produced a significant reduction in the amount of collisions in the area.
Yakima County Fatal Reduction
This issue has two on going projects led by Sergeant Ethan Reavis and Trooper Darin Foster. Yakima County has a continued to have a high number of fatality collisions involving Latinos and Native Americans. There has been a multi-prong approach to this issue. The WSP is working with local law enforcement agencies, the Yakama Tribal Police and the Yakima County Sheriff to develop joint enforcement emphasis patrols. The WSP has secured a crashed vehicle to use as a point of conversation during presentations and public events bringing awareness and education to the issue. We expanded the El Protector Latino outreach to include the lower valley. Troopers have made an effort to reach out to the Native American population and educate them regarding traffic safety.
In January of 2004, the WSP designated a new Hispanic Outreach program called “El Protector.” Through data analysis it was determined that the Latino population was over-represented in fatality and felony collisions. An advisory board was formed involving local leaders in the Hispanic community, media, Washington Traffic Safety, and law enforcement to develop ideas and new strategies to reach the target audience. There was also a cadre of Spanish speaking law enforcement officers from city, county and the WSP that are involved in the educational efforts.
It was determined to take the message to the location of where people work, live and events in the community. We have experienced overwhelming support from local farms and various employers. The results were immediate and have sustained. 2003, there were 20 Latinos drivers involved in fatal and felony collisions in the Kennewick/Walla Walla APA and during 2005 there were three. The numbers reduced dramatically and we can show that this program saves lives. The POPS project has been closed but the outreach remains active today. Without the support of our partners, this outreach would not have been as successful.