Friday, December 2, 2005

Speeders rile Hailey residents

Hailey police hard pressed to fulfill traffic enforcement needs


By JASON KAUFFMAN
Express Staff Writer

This year alone, the Hailey Police Department has lost three of its police officers who have quit for other jobs outside of the Wood River Valley. The officer shortage has caused a reduction in traffic enforcement efforts and has led to a number of complaints from residents who say they are seeing increased speeding and other dangerous driving behavior throughout the city. Photo by Willy Cook

The past year has been a challenging one for the Hailey Police Department.

Not only has the department lost three of its police officers, but it's also been fielding an abnormally high number of crime reports, Hailey Police Chief Brian McNary said.

The effect of the two unrelated issues can be seen on the streets throughout Hailey, McNary admits. More reported crime combined with fewer police officers means less time spent on traffic enforcement, he said.

"The less we're able to get out and enforce the worse it gets," McNary said.

McNary equates the problem to trying to stop a leak in a dike by plugging it with your finger. "The whole thing kind of overwhelms you."

When the department is fully staffed, Hailey police officers split their time between "obligated time" and "free patrol time," McNary said. The officer's obligated time is primarily spent on crime-related issues ranging from investigating crimes to writing up the extensive reports afterwards, he said.

Because patrolling isn't considered the top priority it's one of the first things to go when officers are stretched as thin as they are right now, McNary said.

The Hailey Police Department typically receives between two and five traffic complaints from city residents every week, McNary said.

One of those residents, Heather Franks, says she doesn't feel safe walking with her family near their home on Blue Lake Drive. Franks said the problem is high school drivers going to and from the Wood River High School at high rates of speed.

"Something needs to be done," she said.

A mother of two young children and the owner of three dogs and one cat, Franks is fed up with the attitude of drivers speeding through her neighborhood. "They don't stop," she said. "They flip you off and speed around you."

Franks is concerned the speeding drivers may endanger her family.

"I've had it," she said. "I'm afraid one of them will get hit."

Franks said a speeding driver recently hit and knocked over a trash can on her street. "There was trash all the way up and down the street," she said.

Franks has spoken with many of her neighbors, and said all have expressed concern with the speeding. "Something needs to change," she said.

McNary said the Police Department is working to alleviate its staffing problem. Within six weeks the department will add an additional police officer to its ranks, and by March or April, two more officers will be ready to begin working, he said.

"They don't want excuses, they just want somebody to get out there," McNary said of Hailey residents.

When the department loses an officer it amounts to a loss of 1000 hours or six months without a police officer, he said. Finding, hiring and training a new officer is a lengthy process that doesn't happen overnight, McNary said.

"We're having a hard time hiring for these positions," he said.

McNary said he will soon be approaching the Hailey City Council to ask for an additional officer who may be assigned strictly to traffic enforcement.




 Local Weather 
Search archives:


Copyright © 2021 Express Publishing Inc.   Terms of Use   Privacy Policy
All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited. 

The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.