2017-02-05 / Insight

State Police launch directed patrols for traffic enforcement

BY KRYSTAL MORALEE
810-452-2609 • kmoralee@mihomepaper.com


Lt. Shannon Sims, Post Commander for the Michigan State Police Lapeer Post, has been in charge since November 2015. He is turning his focus to reducing the number of traffic crashes in Lapeer County. 
Photo byKrystal Moralee Lt. Shannon Sims, Post Commander for the Michigan State Police Lapeer Post, has been in charge since November 2015. He is turning his focus to reducing the number of traffic crashes in Lapeer County. Photo byKrystal Moralee LAPEER — Sitting in his office at the Michigan State Police Lapeer Post along M-24, Post Commander Lt. Shannon Sims too often hears the squealing tires and crash of traffic accidents on Lapeer’s busiest road, and he’s making it a mission to cut down on the number of crashes in this county, as well as St. Clair County.

“Knock on wood, Lapeer County is one of those counties where we don’t have a high crime rate, but we have a lot of traffic crashes. We have a lot more people hurt and killed in crashes than any other incidents,” he said. “That became my focal point. How can we help citizens not be injured or killed in traffic crashes?”


Lapeer Police Chief Todd Alexander points to the No Texting decal on one of the Lapeer Police Department’s patrol vehicles. Texting while driving, Alexander said, might be one of the most dangerous things that is happening in the City of Lapeer. 
Photo by Krystal Moralee Lapeer Police Chief Todd Alexander points to the No Texting decal on one of the Lapeer Police Department’s patrol vehicles. Texting while driving, Alexander said, might be one of the most dangerous things that is happening in the City of Lapeer. Photo by Krystal Moralee That has prompted Sims to launch directed patrols during peak hours on the county’s two main state highways, M-24 and M-53. The assigned troopers are looking for distracted driving, speeding, seatbelt use, and even equipment violations, all of which can contribute to an unsafe driving environment.

In addition to the extra patrols, Sims said they’re working on educating the public more about actually driving their vehicle rather than being distracted by any number of other things, whether it’s texting, eating, drinking, putting on makeup or other distractions. On Feb. 14, the State Police will be partnering with AT&T to bring a full vehicle-sized distracted driving simulator to Imlay City High School, and Sims said they have a smaller simulator they’re hoping to bring into other area schools.

Creating a local partnership with other law enforcement agencies is also an important part of the equation to cut down on traffic incidents. Sims said he’s been meeting with other local chiefs and the sheriff, and said, “I’m hoping in the near future we’re going to be working on this as a concentrated group. The moons have aligned perfectly in Lapeer County, and between these four departments (Lapeer City, State Police, Lapeer County Sheriff’s Dept. and Imlay City) there’s a lot we can do to keep people from being hurt or injured.”

Sims said it’s easy to become a little too comfortable behind the wheel.

“People become so used to being in vehicles, we forget it’s a 3,000- to 4,000- pound piece of metal going down the road at 60 to 70 miles per hour,” he said. “We all live in this fantasy world — it’s never going to happen to us — but sometimes it’s our doorbell that rings. It could be anybody because everyone drives. Life’s too valuable to not take precautions to protect it.”

He said Lapeer drivers should take that advice to heart, and to expect to see more troopers looking out for them.

“We’re doing our best. This next year we’re really optimistic about dropping these crashes,” Sims said. “If you’re driving through or living in Lapeer County, you’re going to notice a lot more state police patrolling the roads.”

Community presence and service is another point of concentration for Sims, and he said they’re working on building a stronger relationship with the community. In March, they will be holding an eight-week Citizens Police Academy at First Baptist Church in Hadley to teach about awareness and more.

“We can’t do our job without the help of the public because the public are our eyes and ears,” he said.

The Lapeer State Police Post currently has 28 troopers. Sims is commander for the Lapeer Post and the Port Huron detachment, and there’s a detective-sergeant at each post.

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