As was described in the July NWACA newsletter, a pilot project was proposed several months ago to employ a part-time Travis County Constable to enforce traffic laws in our neighborhood. The proposal was supported by concerns voiced by the neighbors in our traffic survey, including especially speeding, inability to use 4-way stops, running stop signs, and other unsafe driving practices. After extensive discussion and information gathering about how such a program would work, the NWACA Board approved the pilot project at its July monthly meeting. The project will cost $6,000.
The project is one of those funded in part from Project Reserve Funds (see descriptions of that program on the NWACA web site and in May 2017 monthly NWACA Newsletter). Half of the fees for this 6-month program will come from the Project Reserve Funds, and half will be donated by neighbors who submitted the project proposal.
Here is how the program works. An off-duty Constable will patrol areas of our neighborhood in 2-hour blocks several times a week, for a total of about 25 hours per month. The hours are likely to be the busy ones, but at random times and random days of the week. The officer is paid $45/hour and Travis County is paid $15/hour for the use of a Constable-marked car. We have asked the officer to focus on traffic violations, pointing out from our survey that neighbors are concerned especially about speeding, inability to use 4-way stops, running stop signs, and other unsafe driving practices. The officer has the results of the survey, which show the streets and intersections of greatest concern, but is able to patrol throughout the neighborhood as appropriate.
We are likely to have the same Constable working with us throughout the pilot, so he will become quite familiar with our area. Each time he comes on duty, he will check in with the APD Dispatcher, so APD knows he is here. That provides an interesting benefit to the neighborhood; if there are any 911 calls while he is here, those calls will likely to go to the Constable if he is closer to the situation than any APD patrol officer. If there’s a situation requiring backup, the Constable can call on APD; and similarly, if APD is fielding a call, the Constable might be called on for backup if he’s in the area. While the focus is on traffic law enforcement, the Constable can also handle other 911 situations that arise.
Tickets issued by the Constable are Travis County tickets, and fees go to the Travis County Justice of the Peace Court for the precinct in which the offense occurs; for most of the NWACA area, this is Precinct 2, while parts of the neighborhood are in Precinct 5.
The Constable’s office will be providing the NWACA Board with a report of their activities, and we will pass on a summary of that to the neighborhood, so everyone can see whether or not the pilot project is having an impact. We are hopeful this pilot will result in a reduction of the traffic violations our neighbors have reported seeing regularly, as well as neighbors feeling safer in their homes. If you have questions about the project, please send email to [email protected] and we will do our best to answer them.