Speeding through Miami without getting caught is about to become more difficult.
With a grant of $8,563 from the Arizona Governor’s Office of Highway Safety (AZGOHS), the Miami Police Department bought five radars earlier this month. They are currently being installed and every patrol car in the department should have one by mid-January, said Miami Chief of Police Keith Thompson.
The radars are designated for Miami PD Traffic Enforcement and the “Selective Traffic Enforcement Program (STEP),” part of a collaborative effort to reduce the number of speed, aggressive driving and other traffic-related offenses.
“It’s sad that this small community has to have fatalities,” the majority of which have been due to speed, distracted driving or impaired driving, Thompson said.
While, fortunately, Miami had no fatal accidents in 2019, his officers have made more than 1,400 traffic stops as of Christmas Eve this year, he said.
“I preach to my officers to be out there daily and be aware of speeders,” Thompson said.
Asked if drivers speeding through Miami tend to be locals or out-of-towners, Thompson called it “a mixture of both.”
He reminds drivers that there are homes as well as businesses on Highway 60.Residents living along the highway are at risk from speeding drivers who could lose control and end up in someone’s living room or hit a person walking down the sidewalk, he said.
“Slow down and do the speed limit,” Thompson said. “There is no excuse not to.”
While town police patrol Highway 60 from milepost 242 to 245, “we’re not state troopers,” Thompson said. “We cover residential areas as well.”
A disconcerting problem officers see while on patrol are drivers who run school bus stop sign-arms.
“People get impatient and just go around them,” said Thompson, adding that his officers give out tickets weekly for this particular traffic violation.
He reminds citizens that State law prohibits passing a school bus with its stop sign-arm out and flashing lights on. Drivers must stop in both directions unless there is a raised, split median in the road.
On the subject of impatience, Thompson is also concerned about planned construction between Superior and Miami and its resulting effect on local traffic for the next two years.
The guardrail replacement/paving project at Top of the World and the Pinto Creek Bridge project will slow area traffic, which can prompt “aggressive driving and road rage incidents,” Thompson said.
“Don’t throw a fit and get a ticket,” is the timely slogan the Miami Police Department has adopted. Instead, “drive the speed limit and watch for other drivers,” he said.
Thompson recommends that all drivers pay attention to what is behind them, beside them and in front of them. That way, they can see situations such as approaching emergency vehicles and pull to the right for them. Not yielding to emergency vehicles is another traffic violation Thompson and his officers see all too often.
“People tend to drive focused only on what’s right in front of them,” he said. “Drive beyond the hood of your car.”
Thompson is very grateful for the generous grant his department received from AZGOHS and its director Alberto Gutier.
“I also thank my team and the Town of Miami for their support in rebuilding the department,” said Thompson, who became police chief in February this year.
Award winning journalist with over 18 years experience in covering local news and issues affecting rural communities. Married 37 years, my life has taken me from Phoenix to Willcox to Globe. My husband and I are both overjoyed to find ourselves in Globe-Miami, with its rich history and sense of community. This is truly home.