Hollister traffic enforcement surged by 86 percent in 2015

Downtown Hollister drivers could be in for some changes under a new traffic plan.

Hollister traffic enforcement numbers took a giant leap forward in 2015 following three years with relatively low citation figures, according to annual statistics released by the police department.
There were 2,223 “moving violations” recorded in the city during 2015 compared with 1,197 in 2014, 921 in 2013 and 490 in 2012, according to police records.
Those numbers mean the increase between 2012 and 2015 was a 454 percent gain. And between 2014 and 2015, local traffic enforcement jumped by 86 percent.
Police Chief David Westrick attributed the spike to more active enforcement in general, use of grant dollars on dedicated enforcement, and more aggressive ticketing around the schools. Westrick said the addition of school resource officers working near and on local campuses has helped.
The chief also said as part of the increase, cell phone tickets in particular saw a big jump, going from 190 in 2014 to 324 in 2015. That represents a 71 percent increase.
He and other officials, including Mayor Ignacio Velazquez in a separate interview, said they expect the traffic enforcement trend to continue moving forward.
“I want to change behaviors when it comes to driving habits not only around our schools, but around our neighborhoods,” Westrick said.
Westrick has a handle on the challenge with changing habits. He mentioned how over last weekend, he had been driving his truck on Airline and Sunnyslope roads. When he stopped at the intersection and looked over, drivers in all three vehicles across from his were using cellular technology with their hands.
“Every single car was on a phone,” he said.
The chief underscored how such crime data can help police pinpoint areas where police should focus more attention. Such data are submitted to the FBI for inclusion in national records as well. This year, Westrick also expanded on the amount of detail provided in the report. He said he wanted to improve openness with the public and outsiders interested in learning more about the community.
“I kind of wanted to be as inclusive as I could to answer questions if folks had them,” he said.
On the whole, Hollister itself is experiencing a steady drop in crime over recent years. Westrick pointed in particular to the violent and property crime numbers as backing that trend, along with a decreasing crime rate when indexed with population.
There was a total of 362 violent crimes in 2015, including 0 homicides, compared with 367 in 2014, 387 in 2013 and 391 in 2012, according to the figures.
As for other violent crimes outside of homicide, there were 16 reported rapes compared with 14 in 2014; there were 19 robberies, the same as in 2014; and there were 327 assaults in 2015, compared with 331 in 2014 and as high as 393 in 2010.
The most drastic difference in crime reporting, though, was in the traffic enforcement area.
The 2015 spike came after a September 2014 story in the Free Lance detailing the steep drop in tickets issued in the prior two years. Within the overall moving violation numbers, speeding tickets had become increasingly rare, with just 43 issues in 2012 and 76 issues in 2013 after 259 in 2011, according to records.
Other extraordinary changes shown in 2015 figures included a jump in auto thefts, going from 61 to 96
For detailed figures, go to: http://hollister.ca.gov/government/city-departments/police/crime-statistics/

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