Azusa PD set to issue permanent record citations

Steven Smith, guest writer

As of Feb. 13, traffic citations are being issued to members of the APU community.

The Azusa Police Department (PD) began issuing citations for serious traffic violations on campus and processing them through the Los Angeles County Traffic Court system, according to an email advisory sent out by the Department of Campus Safety. This is in addition to the administrative citations that Campus Safety already issues.

“Past violations and accidents have occurred due to speed, inattention and various other unsafe practices by both motorists and pedestrians,” Chief Tim Finneran, interim executive director of the Department of Campus Safety, said in an email.

The advisory also referenced “several traffic accidents [that] occurred on both East and West campuses resulting in injuries.”

Azusa PD confirmed there was at least one motor vehicle accident with an injury on campus within the last year and possibly more that weren’t filed with an address.

There were also 13 motor vehicle crashes with injuries on streets and intersections directly adjacent to APU in 2016 within the California Highway Patrol’s Statewide Integrated Traffic Records System.

The change comes as a part of an ongoing partnership between APU and the Azusa PD. APU has contracted police services from the Azusa PD for three years, according to Finneran. Officer Brandon Saenz has been the University Resource Officer assigned to APU since August 2016.

Prior to the change, Azusa PD was unable to issue traffic citations on APU’s campuses.

“The way the California Vehicle Code works is, because this is private property but it’s open to the public, certain steps have to be taken prior to enforcing vehicle code,” Saenz said. “We worked with our traffic officers at the Azusa Police Department, the traffic division. We also worked with the West Covina Traffic Court, and again, with Azusa Pacific University, in particular the Department of Campus Safety, to see exactly if it could be done, how it could be done and what was needed.”

Saenz is the primary officer responsible for enforcing California Vehicle Code on campus although he mentioned other officers may issue citations during investigations and when he is not available.

“For right now it’s going to fall on my shoulders, so to speak, since I’m assigned to the university and I’ve seen some of the violations,” Saenz said. “They are gonna ask me to do some enforcement, or at least issue warnings; however I see fit. We have that discretion as police officers.”

The crosswalk and stop sign directly south of Adams Hall will be a point of interest for Saenz when it comes to enforcement.

“I’m gonna be looking for speed at that stop sign,” Saenz said. “The safest speed at a stop sign is zero. If you’re rolling through it, if you’re not yielding to the stop like the law says you are, that could be a violation, and its possible to issue a citation.”

Sophomore Business Management major Jason Ramirez shared how his friend might be changing his driving habits because of the new enforcement.

“[My friend] was talking about how he somewhat speeds at night on this road and he’s no longer gonna be able do that,” Ramirez said. “He goes to this studio on West Campus and there’s no one over there so it’s pointless to stop at the stop sign.”

Parking enforcement is not a part of the change and will continue to be handled by Campus Safety, according to Saenz.

“The red zone will be a separate issue,” Saenz said. “My primary duty as far as vehicle code enforcement, is gonna be speed. Essentially speed and just a few other violations.”

The violations include failure to stop at a stop sign, driving at an unsafe speed, and reckless driving, according to the advisory.

“We’re doing this for the safety of everyone involved, a ticket is one thing, but God forbid somebody would get hurt…that would be pretty terrible,” Saenz said.

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