One of the major issues I have in Hoboken is that drivers and pedestrians are selfish. In our "me me me" world - everyone thinks they have the right of way. Car drivers gnash their teeth at the stupid pedestrians jumping in front of them and the pedestrians snarl at drivers who don't let them cross the street first. Everyday I walk to the PATH train, I see car drivers who think stop signs are optional and yellow lights mean "hit the gas". I also see pedestrians who pay zero attention to their surroundings, reading their smartphones and glaring at car drivers while they jaywalk. The speed limit in Hoboken is 20 MPH. There is zero point zero percent chance that people are driving 20 MPH in Hoboken. It's like a war zone.
Some might say we need more police to fix this. I agree. But the issue I have with our police is the majority of their days they are reacting to crime in our town, and what we need is a dedicated division of the police force that has the following goals:
1. Setting up DUI/DWI checkpoints.
2. Combat speeding with speed traps.
3. Ticket for reckless driving.
4. Ticket for failing to yield right of way to pedestrians.
5. Ticket for disobeying traffic control signal or STOP sign.
6. Ticket for double parked cars.
7. Ticket for jaywalkers.
8. Ticket not using seat belt or using a cell phone while driving.
9. Failure to stop for a school bus or disobeying a school crossing guard.
10. Failure to yield to an emergency vehicle.
The HRP would be similar to what they have in California, The California Highway Patrol. The HRP would be a law enforcement agency which has patrol jurisdiction over all Hoboken roadways (including any county roads within Hoboken's borders). The HRP would be a branch of the Division of Motor Vehicles in the Department of Public Works. Local police are primarily responsible for investigating and enforcing traffic laws - but having a HRP frees local police to focus on other tasks not related to the roadways. HRP officers enforce the New Jersey Vehicle Code, pursue fugitives spotted on the roadways or sidewalks and attend to all significant obstructions and accidents within their jurisdiction. HRP officers are responsible for investigating and disposing of car accidents, disabled vehicles, debris, and other impediments to the free flow of traffic. They are often the first responders at the scene of an accident (or obstruction), and in turn summon paramedics, firefighters or tow truck drivers.
Of course, hiring more police would mean higher taxes to pay for them. I think these costs could be offset in various ways:
1. I would suggest that the police we hire for the HRP can work very flexible shifts - if they were setting up speed traps or patrolling for double parked cars, they could do this during the times of the day in which we see the most issues. Wouldn't you like Hoboken to have that "extra patrol" of police when the bars are open at night - setting up checkpoints for drunk drivers?
2. I'd like to see HRP use Class 2 police officers, if possible. Plus it would be a good way to create a pool of "good officers" to choose from if openings become available within the main Hoboken Police Department ranks, too.
3. The revenue generated by tickets would offset many if not all of these costs for hiring a patrol.
What you do you think?