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Where are police catching speeders?

Sterling targets Third, Fourth, while Dixon focuses on Galena

STERLING – See a lot of cops on Third and Fourth streets?

You probably do. And there’s a reason for that: Most of the department’s traffic tickets are given there.

Since December, nearly two-thirds of the Sterling Police Department’s speeding tickets – 63 of 98 – were given to motorists on Third or Fourth.

Most tickets for no seat belt and no insurance also were written to drivers on those streets. 

In February, of all traffic tickets issued, 60 percent were on Third and Fourth.

Historically, the Sterling Police Department has released information to the media in its daily reports on traffic violations such as speeding, so it’s easier to track its traffic enforcement activities.

The Dixon and Rock Falls police department release information on arrests to the media, but not on tickets. All the information is subject to Freedom of Information Act requests.  

Dixon police Lt. Brad Sibley said his department believes in publishing arrests, but not citations.

“Someone getting a speeding ticket is not the biggest offense,” he said.

Besides monitoring Third and Fourth streets, the Sterling Police Department hands out a lot of speeding tickets on Lynn Boulevard and Locust and 23rd streets.

Since December, Sterling police have issued only one ticket on East Lincolnway – one of the city’s busiest streets, according to its daily media reports.

The speed limit on Third or Fourth streets – both two-lane, one-way streets through mostly residential neighborhoods – is 30 mph. On the east side of town, they converge into East Lincolnway. A few blocks to the east, the limit increases to 35 mph, then 45 mph.

Sterling Police Lt. Doug Fargher said speeding isn’t as much of a problem on Lincolnway.

“You have traffic lights stopping people,” he said. “There’s more congestion.”

On Third and Fourth, Fargher said, “When it’s a nice day, people don’t realize how much their foot is on the gas; they go faster than they should.”

Police also watch Locust Street south of Lynn Boulevard, Fargher said. 

“People don’t realize that the speed limit there is 30 mph,” he said. “They think it’s faster.”

The department is shorthanded these days, he said, so officers don’t have as much time for traffic enforcement. They often do stops between non-immediate calls, he said. 

The Rock Falls Police Department doesn’t usually tell its officers where to go to catch speeders, Cmdr. Doug Coppotelli said.

“We have no set areas to tell people where to sit, unless we have complaints about speeding,” Coppotelli said. “Our officers are on routine patrol.”

According to Dixon Police Department’s records, half of the department’s 314 tickets from Dec. 1 to May 26 were on Galena Avenue, the city’s main thoroughfare. And 21 percent were on River Road.

“On Galena, it’s not uncommon for people to be in a hurry,” Lt. Sibley said.

As for other areas, he said, “We do directed patrols, when people call about problems.”

The department plans to get a radar trailer soon, which would inform motorists how fast they’re going. The equipment also records the speed of each motorist, so officers can determine where problems are.

The Dixon department also has received state grants for seat-belt enforcement. One of the targets is Third Street and College Avenue.

“It’s a well-lit intersection, even when it gets darker,” Sibley said, which makes it easier to see who isn’t wearing a seat belt.

The department usually watches that intersection for 4 hours at a time, getting five to eight citations, he said.

“The state prefers we do this after 11 o’clock at night,” he said. “But in our community, there’s not a lot of traffic after 11 o’clock.”

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