Has Chief Mills really solved the traffic problems in Eureka?

traffic accident

According to a recent Eureka City Newsletter, Chief Mills claims injury traffic collisions are down. From the Chief:

“Over the past year EPD has worked with Traffic Engineering to reduce injury collisions in Eureka. While its a small snapshot in time, the news looks promising. A comparison during the summer months over the past five years shows a 35% overall reduction in injury collisions.”

So, according to the “REPORTED” statistics there are fewer injury traffic collisions in Eureka today, as compared to the past. Mills attributes the statistics to more Education, Engineering and Enforcement in the City. Education, Engineering and Enforcement….that almost sounds like a slogan! Did Mills come up with this new idea? Not exactly. From the Federal Department of Transportation to the State of California, those have been the standards in trying to make driving safer for at least the past 30 plus years. In fact, every Chief in Eureka back to Chief Shipley (hired in 1973) has talked about “The 3 ‘E’s’ of traffic safety.”

So what steps has Mills actually taken which have significantly lowered the number of “REPORTED” injury traffic collisions, compared to all the prior EPD Chiefs? Even though there’s only one dedicated traffic officer (the lowest staffing the traffic unit has had in years), the lowered traffic enforcement didn’t help all that much with getting the “REPORTED” number of collisions down. That could only come by the firing of a large group of employee’s who helped to generate injury traffic collision reports: Police Service’s Officers (PSO’s).

PSO’s, if our readers remember, were recently laid off due to budget cuts at the Eureka Police Department. The Police Union, which represented the PSO’s, didn’t put up much of a fight to keep those jobs and it was left to the individual PSO’s to try and educate the city about how important their jobs were. From tracking down missing persons to responding to traffic collisions, the PSO’s did a lot of work.

Chief Mills was the ultimate decider on whether those PSO jobs would be saved, or not. He chose to get rid of the PSO’s, and he had his reasons. The silly part is, some of those PSO’s were hired back to fill newly created jobs. Those new jobs don’t have anything to do with taking crime or traffic collision reports. In fact, at least one of the new jobs has a part in creating all of the new fancy statistics Mills so often flaunts. The rest of the money spent on PSO’s has been used to hire annuitants, and people who have left EPD to work for other local law enforcement agencies. In fact, the total “savings” from firing all the PSO’s hasn’t actually worked out on paper all that well.

But what did work out for Mills……”REPORTED” crimes were down without the PSO’s. To top it off, “REPORTED” injury traffic collisions were down. But how could that happen? The PSO’s only used to take non-injury traffic collision reports. Now that the police won’t take non-injury traffic reports (unless you insist and are willing to wait for hours), how would that make INJURY traffic collision statistics go down?

The answer is simple, many times people don’t report being injured, or even realize they’re injured, until someone asks. For example; let’s say someone gets in a fender bender on Broadway. In the past, the drivers would move there vehicles to the side of the road and call for police assistance. One of the first questions a dispatcher would ask was, “Is anyone injured?”. Both drivers feel pretty good, and they don’t want an ambulance so they say that no one is injured. Sometime later a PSO arrives. The PSO asks both drivers, “Do you have any pain or injuries?”. In many cases, a driver will then tell the PSO that they have pain in their neck, or bruises on their arms from the airbag, or scratches to their hand, etc., etc. Those are injuries, but in many cases they are not being reported to the police department since the police don’t respond to “non injury” collisions. Now that PSO’s don’t respond to those calls, the drivers exchange information and report their injuries to the insurance company.

The numbers game continues under Slick Andy Mills. His methods have been deceitful, massive, and easy to see for anyone with a critical eye. Unfortunately, from the City of Eureka to the local media, no one seems to be willing to ask the obvious questions. For instance, less than a month ago the NCJ ran an article titled “Two Recent Fatalities Bring Humbold’s 2015 Road Deaths to 27”. A little before that the NCJ ran an article titled “Crash. Humboldt has one of the highest vehicle fatality rates in the country. Is it the roads or us?”.

Our question is, where is the local article titled “Humboldt has one of the highest vehicle fatality rates in the country, yet Chief Mills claims driving in Eureka is safer than it has been in years. WTF????”

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5 thoughts on “Has Chief Mills really solved the traffic problems in Eureka?

  1. Eureka’s reports of pedestrian, cyclist and motorist injuries and fatalities are statistically among the highest in the state, mostly occurring on Highway 101, and yet, instead of focusing limited public resources on the most dangerous highways, Caltrans is transferring public resources to serve projects that expand access for larger and heavier STAA trucks throughout District 1, (Humboldt, Trinity, Del Norte, and Lake counties).

    According to the National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration, numerous highway fatalities already involve tractor trailers; how will the addition of larger and heavier trucks improve safety? Projects like the widening of Richardson Grove, among others in District 1, will subject the public to increasing hazard from larger trucks, while areas like Eureka, Weott, Highways 20 and 29, (with fatality rates four times higher than the district average), remain unaddressed.

    There’s no evidence that the massive public expenditures required to facilitate larger, heavier STAA trucks onto our rural highways will reduce the overall number of tractor trailers or fatalities. To remain competitive, smaller trucking companies will simply reduce rates, pushing drivers harder for less pay.

    Caltrans’ mission statement emphasizes public safety as their primary goal, but their projects tell another story. The largest beneficiaries are the handful of the biggest trucking companies and retailers owning STAA trucks ensuring increased company profits at huge public expense.

    Please call or write your representatives to demand that Caltrans return to its foremost responsibility of ensuring public safety and stop using public wealth to enrich the nation’s wealthiest shippers and retailers.

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  2. rehired PSO’s…weren’t there 20 fired and three rehired?

    and wasn’t one of them someone with some controversy attached?

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    • Wait a minute. You’re not referring to that lady who used to write recipes for the Times-Standard while getting paid as a PSO in the detective section, are you? That’s ridiculous if true.

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      • That sounds like the worthless – do-nothing but collect a check – head of the get Garr fired good old boys – “Suzie Owsley”

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  3. Slick Andy indeed. Recently rear ended on Broadway. Police would not come. So no report. There has been no improvements in traffic safety. All drivers here know that. What we have here is creative accounting.

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