I wanted to share my thoughts on a recent tragedy that many of you may have heard about. We recently had a young man, a student at Alhambra High School who by all accounts is an all-around great young man, get injured in a car accident. The young man was a passenger in a vehicle that was “spinning donuts” and as he was leaning out of the car without a seatbelt, he was ejected; the car overturned and rolled on to him.
Unfortunately, the young man suffered severe injuries.
This took place at the Marina which has been an appealing location for reckless driving and side show activity. On behalf of the police department – he and his family are in our thoughts and wish him a speedy recovery.
Over the years we have had ongoing issues with reckless driving at the Marina and enforcing laws have been a challenge based on the location; as officers respond, they can be seen from afar and whatever illicit activity is taking place usually comes to a stop. While we have issued citations and impounded cars, the draw of an open parking lot far from a public setting is rather appealing for sideshow and reckless driving activity. Furthermore, sometimes our youth don’t always think about the consequences of their actions and as a parent, I see and understand that – it is a part of growing up. I’m certainly no exception and we all make mistakes or bad choices; sometime we get lucky and escape injury, but other times we are not so fortunate.
I wanted to share this story for the newsletter for a few reasons: to highlight the issue of reckless motor vehicle operation, to discuss how we are looking at mitigating the problem, and most importantly to discuss how we will be working with our fabulous partners in the Martinez Unified School District to raise awareness of the consequences of unsafe driving habits and risky behavior.
Over the last few weeks city staff has been working on interventions that cover three areas: enforcement, altering the environment to dissuade sideshow activity, and education for those that engage in this dangerous behavior.
From an enforcement perspective – since it is difficult for officers to get to the Marina without being detected to witness the activity we are evaluating the placement of cameras in the Marina that would cover the parking lots in the area.
Since reckless driving is a misdemeanor crime it requires that either the officer witness the crime or a bystander be willing to follow through on a private persons arrest to take action. We often get calls of screeching tires in the area and as the officer approaches, the activity stops without the officer in a position to identify which car and which driver was engaged in the activity. By adding cameras we will be able identify the vehicle involved and depending on camera quality as well as lighting, identify the driver as this is the person who would be held responsible for the illegal activity.
In terms of altering the environment at the Marina – our Public Works Department is looking at finding a solution to make it more difficult or uncomfortable for cars to “spin donuts” in the parking lot. We are looking at modifications to the parking lot that would decrease or eliminate this activity while maintaining the ability to use the lot for its intended purpose.
Lastly, we have been coordinating with Alhambra High School on a presentation for young drivers and their parents that will take place at Alhambra High School.
Sergeant Ferrer will be presenting our program CDL: Choices, Decisions, Life-Saving Driving for Teens and Parents in conjunction with CHP and their Street Smarts Program. The goal of the presentation is to discuss safe driving and good decision makinto keep teens safe. Alhambra High School has been extremely supportive and we look forward to integrating this presentation as part of a permanent program at the school.
– Manjit Sappal