Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Wilson Co. (TN) Needs A New Sheriff

We've all heard the phrase "speed kills" in regards to car accidents. Over the years, studies have been done by different organizations on how vehicle speed contributes to the number of, and severity of, motor vehicle wrecks. Without debating which of those studies is the most accurate, common sense tells us that as vehicle speed increases :
  1. stopping distance increases, and 
  2. crash severity increases.
A typical speed limit sign in the United State...
This is NOT the speed limit on my street, people!! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
My wife and I moved into our house in Wilson Co. (TN) nine years ago. Since our street was completed, we have had continuous problems with motorists speeding through our neighborhood. The speed limit is 25 MPH, but I continuously see cars, pickup trucks, vans, delivery trucks, dump trucks, tow trucks, and even school buses speed by in front of my house. I would estimate their high speeds are close to double the legal limit. And yes - I said even school buses. So, at double the legal limit, these drivers are doing 40-50 MPH in a 25 zone on a residential street that is both windy and hilly. It's producing extremely unsafe conditions and a recipe for disaster.

While we've lived here, I have placed multiple calls to the Wilson Co. Sheriff's Office (WCSO) asking, pleading, and begging for them to do some speed enforcement on our street to help mitigate the problem, since it is the main traffic artery through our subdivision. We've received no help from those calls. I have talked to various WCSO's Deputies when I've ran into them at the local convenient mart, local fast food joint, and other places, and requested their assistance. We've received no help from those conversations, either. In fact, on multiple occasions, I've had those same deputies tell me stuff along the lines of, "I don't even have a radar gun in my car."

After hearing that for about the third time, I checked into it with another local law enforcement official, and was told that, indeed, most Wilson Co. Deputies do not have radar guns in their cruisers. That official also told me that the WCSO has a policy that they do not write speeding tickets unless a motorist is doing at least 20 MPH over the speed limit. So, in my subdivision, a motorist would have to be doing 45, in a 25, before they would get written up. In my opinion, that's ridiculous as it does not deter speeding the least iota.

Finally, back last fall, we did get a little speed enforcement help. A friend of mine, who's a deputy, came out for a few hours a day for several days when he had time and wrote some tickets. I told him how grateful we were, but that we needed some regular help, because when he wasn't there, the problem returned. He suggested I call the actual Sheriff, Robert Bryan. So, on September 26, 2013, I did. I had to leave a message for him with his administrative assistant. I explained to her why I was calling, and she said she would have him call me back. He was in a meeting at the time. I think her name was Vicky. That was over 6 months ago. I'm yet to hear back from Sheriff Bryan, and since I left that message, the little bit of speed enforcement we were getting has completely dried up.

Speeding's probably not a big deal to most people. However, it's a big safety concern on our street. Kids are out playing, riding bikes and skateboards. If one of them was to suddenly bolt out in the street, a driver going 45-50 has no time to slow down or stop. One obeying the 25 MPH speed limit does. Plus, if a driver going 45 strikes a child, the chances of serious injury to the child and even death are much greater than if the vehicle is only going 25. Once again, it's just common sense. Unfortunately, common sense is in short supply nowadays.

Additionally, our speeding problem is dangerous for other drivers. For example, backing out of my driveway, I have hills a short distance to both my left and my right. There have been multiple instances where I have looked both ways and with traffic clear I've backed out of the driveway. I then get going on my way, when suddenly there's a speeding vehicle on top of me, because it was flying low when it came over the hill. Frequently, the few of us that obey the speed limit are passed by speeding drivers on our residential street. It's happened to me multiple times. Reckless, speeding drivers are making the street dangerous for everybody, and WCSO is doing nothing about it despite numerous requests for assistance. It's getting ridiculously dangerous.

On the WCSO website, there is a page set aside for "Traffic Enforcement." There it states:
The Wilson County Sheriff’s Departments duties also include the safety of the citizens of Wilson County while traveling the many miles of roadways within the county. For every ones safety the Traffic Division patrols the many miles of roadway in Wilson County making sure motorists are complying with state traffic laws. They also assist the Patrol Division in answering the many calls received from citizens of Wilson County.
My nine years as a Wilson Co. (TN) resident have not seen the WCSO perform the above duty. The speeding problem in our subdivision existed during the Terry Ashe Administration, and it has continued under the Bryan Administration. Sheriff Bryan is now responsible for it just like Obama is responsible for problems that started during the Bush Administration. In both cases, the successors could have fixed the problems, but they have chosen not to. In my subdivision, it has led to unsafe streets, and I suspect there are other subdivisions within the county where the same problem exists.

As a taxpaying citizen of this county, I should not have to beg and plead with the Sheriff's office to do it's job. I feel like I am not getting my dollar's worth out of the taxes I pay. Sheriff Bryan is up for re-election this year (2014), and I am so fed up with the inaction of his office in this matter, that I would consider running against him if I met the qualifications. I'm hoping someone will and win. If you're interested in doing so, you can find the filing deadline at this link and the minimum qualifications for Wilson Co. Sheriff at this link. You may have to scroll down the page a bit.

It is my opinion that by ignoring repeated requests for assistance and not even having the professional courtesy to return my phone call, the speeding, and resulting safety issue, in my subdivision are not important to Sheriff Bryan and his office. It appears that he is not concerned about public safety. Therefore, it is time for him to go.

My fear is that if the WCSO continues to ignore this problem, it is only a matter of time until someone is seriously injured, killed, or maimed on my street by a speeding, reckless motorist. The question I have for Sheriff Bryan is, what if that someone is an innocent child who's out playing? How are you gonna explain your office's inaction to their parents?

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