Mahomet Police Department's new program driving home public safety

Mahomet Police Chief Mike Metzler said the efforts are part of the new Neighborhood Targeted Enforcement Efforts, which focus on traffic enforcement and general public safety by increasing patrol in one neighborhood or subdivision each month.

"We're primarily looking to address safety violations to keep motorists and pedestrians and kids in the neighborhoods safe," Metzler said.

As for the announcement of the program on the police department's Facebook and Twitter pages, Metzler said he and his patrol officers wanted to provide the public with plenty of notice.

"The idea was to give people fair warning that we're coming to your neighborhood and if you're not heading those warnings, then whatever consequences or actions we take based on the driving behavior that we see, well then you can't say we didn't warn you ahead of time," he said.

Moving violations aside, Metzler also hopes the increased presence also reminds motorists to stay off their cellphones while driving or in school zones.

"We see a lot of distracted driving," he said. "I saw a lot of people at Lincoln Trail (using cellphones) while picking up their kids and moving through the lines," he added. "Safety violations are what we will end up primarily targeting."

Village President Sean Widener said the program is in light of previous conversations with subdivision residents over concerns, mainly of speed.

"We thought this was a good step with a focus in neighborhood safety," Widener said. "It's going back to a grass-roots approach — a neighborhood watch, community policing type approach."

The village hopes the neighborhood targeted enforcement efforts will not only remind residents to slow down and remain focused on the road but also increase overall safety awareness.

"It's more like a reminder," Widener said. "Close your garages at night, lock your cars, lock your doors," he added. "We're happy that we can claim that we have a safe and friendly community but that doesn't relieve you of taking steps on your own."

Metzler said community members should keep a close eye on Mahomet Police Department's Facebook and Twitter pages for the next neighborhood to receive increased patrol. But more than anything, the village hopes the program increases the relationships made between the public and its officers.

"It gets our officers out there interacting with folks and hopefully on a level that they can appreciate that we're looking out for everybody," Widener said.

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