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Number of police citations triples in Lower Swatara Township

By Laura Hayes

laurahayes@pressandjournal.com

717-944-4628
Posted 2/11/20

There were more than three times more traffic citations, non-traffic citations and warnings issued by Lower Swatara Township police in 2019 compared to 2018.

There were a total of 2,145 traffic …

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Number of police citations triples in Lower Swatara Township

Posted

There were more than three times more traffic citations, non-traffic citations and warnings issued by Lower Swatara Township police in 2019 compared to 2018.

There were a total of 2,145 traffic and non-traffic citations and warnings issued in 2019 compared to 604 issued in 2018, according to figures provided to the Press & Journal by Lower Swatara Police Chief Jeff Vargo.

Vargo, who started at the department in the beginning of 2019, attributes the increase to hiring two new officers in 2019, starting foot and bike patrols and participating in two new traffic initiatives.

The ultimate goal is to reduce the number of crashes, Vargo said.

“Our job is to make the roadway safe whether that be through a written warning or citation. Our job is to educate motorists,” Vargo said.

The number of calls for service for the department increased from 6,055 in 2018 to 8,049 in 2019.

A total of 467 cases were opened in 2019, and the police department made 307 arrests, which is an increase from 264 in 2018.

Those calls could be foot patrols, which the department put an emphasis on in 2019, Vargo said.

When the initiative kicked off in early 2019, Vargo told the Press & Journal that he asked the officers to do a foot patrol once a shift and patrol either a neighborhood of their choice or one that may be experiencing a higher level of incidents.

The officers later added bike patrols, too. While on patrol, the officers handed out baseball cards with the officers’ information for kids to collect.

Vargo said one of the department’s goals was to increase the visibility of the department in residential areas.

“I think we’ve been successful,” he said.

Vargo said the greatest increase was in traffic contact.

In 2019, there were 970 traffic citations, 75 non-traffic citations and 1,100 warnings compared to 290 traffic citations, 60 non-traffic citations, and 254 warnings in 2018. There were also more DUI arrests — 46 in 2019 compared to 35 in 2018.

He attributed it in part to the department starting to participate in two campaigns through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration called “Buckle Up” and “Aggressive Driving.”

Enforcement through these programs is grant-funded and takes place in specific waves throughout the year — October to November, March to April and July to October for aggressive driving and during Memorial Day and Thanksgiving for buckle up.

“The increase in traffic citations is a direct reflection on our participation in programs like buckle up and aggressive driving,” Vargo said.

In 2020, Vargo plans to continue to participate in the aggressive driving and buckle up initiatives and focus on being visible in the community and community relation initiatives like Coffee With A Cop, National Night Out, and handing out the baseball cards.