EMSA to Eagleton: "Thank you for working to make Tulsa a safer place"

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Tulsa City Councilor John Eagleton got a lot of grief over his proposal to put more police resources toward traffic enforcement. He reasoned that increased enforcement would not divert funds from other police functions, but would pay for itself, with money left over to help other areas of law enforcement, and in the process it would prevent injuries and save lives. Eagleton was right, according to the head of Tulsa's emergency medical service. EMSA chief Steve Williamson compares the first 10.5 months of 2006 (before the change in policy prompted by Eagleton) and the same 10.5 months of 2007 (after the change).

Crashes requiring EMSA's presence dropped by 6.6%. 9.6% fewer motorists involved in a crash required transport to a hospital. That works out to about 435 fewer crashes and about 300 fewer serious injuries. Williamson credits Eagleton's initiative, with follow through by Mayor Kathy Taylor and the Tulsa Police Department, for this dramatic decline, at a time when total EMSA calls have been rising by 10% a year.

November 19, 2007

Councilor John Eagleton
Tulsa City Council
200 Civic Center
Tulsa, OK 74103

Dear Councilor Eagleton,

Over the past four years, emergency medical call volume in Tulsa has been steadily increasing. EMSA has realized 10% jumps in volume each year for the past four years. Therefore, I was quite surprised to discover that emergency calls and transports related to motor vehicle accidents recently has declined. You, Councilor Eagleton, along with Mayor Kathy Taylor and the Tulsa Police Department, are likely responsible for this phenomenal turnaround.

From January 1 - November 15, 2006, EMSA responded to 6,595 motor vehicle crashes in the Tulsa metropolitan area. Nearly 3,000 individuals suffered crash-related injuries serious enough to require ambulance transport to a hospital. In mid-November 2006, on the heels of your proposal to boost traffic enforcement, Mayor Taylor announced that police officers would beef up patrols along some of Tulsa's most heavily traveled streets. The result has been nothing short of amazing. From January 1 - November 15, 2007, EMSA responded to 6.6% fewer crashes than during the same period of the previous year. The number of motorists suffering injuries serious enough to require hospital care declined by 9.6%. That translates into nearly 300 lives directly, positively impacted.

Thank you for working to make Tulsa a safer place to live and a more attractive place to visit and conduct business. Your advocacy on behalf of law enforcement and emergency medical service initiatives is valued. EMSA's statistics suggest that your work has led to a significant reduction in the number of crash-related injuries suffered by Tulsans. Quite possibly, your efforts have saved lives.


Stephen Williamson
EMSA President and Chief Executive Officer

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Paul Tay said:

I bet alot of that has to do with enforcing the speed limit on motorists who insist on CRIMINALLY speeding just to catch the next red light.

Of course, the second part of that equation is ENGINEERING. For example, TPD recommended to Public Works to install a specific traffic control device at the T-intersection of Jenks Middle School on 91st Street.

TPD's motivation would be to save on officer OT. I'd like to get an official answer from PW on why that recommendation was not followed.

The point is enforcement only lasts as long as officers are around. ENGINEERING is forever.

Motorists will behave or MIS-behave consistent with roadway design. If the roadway is wide and straight, traffic engineers ENCOURAGE motorists to be COMPLACENT and to step on the gas, while on the cellphone.

Shouldn't traffic engineers design roadways to ENCOURAGE motorists to pay attention, instead of lulling them into COMPLACENCY?

webworm Author Profile Page said:

Traffic Engineering in Tulsa is a joke. These "technicians" at City Hall are only concerned with empire building and feather bedding. They contrive ways to make more papers for them to push around. They change speed limit signs and then, change them again, often within weeks of the original change. The reason? To create more opportunities for "surveys" and "studies", which means more time, personnel and money for them. My solution would be to get rid of half of these bureaucrats and spend the money on cops. Then, double the cost of traffic citations and put more unmarked cars on the streets. This will work!

Paul Tay said:

Yes. I once asked MAC for the person in charge of the geometric design group at PW. Never got an answer. Any ideas?

Mike B said:

Hmm, no mention of the City stealing money from the citizenry to bail out EMSA. He could have at least said, "Thank you".

David V Author Profile Page said:

I can personally attest to the failures of Tulsa's traffic engineering. There are many accidents which could be averted through bringing some of our more dangerous intersections up to a decent standard.

What bothers me about Eagleton's past initiatives is that he seems to see ticket-writing as a reliable source of city revenue (which the Okla. Supreme Court considers an unlawful motivation for enforcement).

When you make a department's budget dependant upon their quota of monetary citations, You create an environment for abuse.

Suppose the initiative is successful and Tulsa traffic gets incredibly safe. Then the officers will have to dig deeper into finding more ways to write tickets or they'll get laid off. Courts will get more bogged down with innocent people seeking to prove their innocence at a cost of missed personal income and legal representation.

For each litigated case there are 100 other innocent citizens who'll just pay the $150 fine because litigating will set them back over $1000 dollars.

Police officers should be primarily public safety officers, not revenue agents.

Current TPD policy isn't consistant with putting public safety first, as I witnessed when an on-duty officer saw another driver fail to yield right-of-way and totalled our car. The officer sought to keep from testifying as an eyewitness. that's a poor example of civic duty.

Getting back to my first point; I just don't want Tulsa to be a bigger, uglier version of Hulbert, OK.

Brent Taylor Author Profile Page said:

Ironic David V that you would write that email this week. I'd like to convey my story that will verify your concerns and perhaps give some perspective about the quality of our representative city council - at least one of its members.

On January 23, 2008, my 17 year old daughter came home yesterday afternoon bawling with her first traffic ticket. I don’t know if she was scared from her first meeting with police or fearing dad’s reaction to her first ticket. It’s been twenty years since I received a ticket of any type. She handed me a $120.00 moving violation. When I saw the fine, I have to admit I was taken back by the size. I asked her, “did you run a red light, were you speeding or driving recklessly?” Come to find out my daughter’s crime was turning right off the exit road which runs parallel to the Skelly Bypass and turning into the old Stevenson neighborhood via a business parking lot. Seems she had followed another car doing the same thing (yes, she’s young and naïve) as she was trying to get home from school and took a new way due to traffic. She had never gone home this way and had no idea that turning right into a business to get to a neighborhood is illegal.

My daughter admits her guilt and we will pay the hefty fine, outrageous as it is, especially being there was absolutely no danger to property or person. In fact, I would rate this as about the same danger to the people and property as a rolling stop thru a residential stop sign.

After a little research, I found out that the fine structure of a traffic violation is not established by the Tulsa police but by our city council. I called my representative tonight, John Eagleton, and asked him how our council could justify a $120.00 fine be the minimum for any traffic violation – danger or not – and did he not think a fine of that size excessive?

Before I tell you the rest of story, you should know I have never had the pleasure (or displeasure) of dealing with a member of our city council. I hope I don’t have to again. From the very beginning of my phone call, Mr. Eagleton was flippant, obtuse and cavalier in his responses. When I asked Mr. Eagleton, “didn’t it seem to be a little nervy to be asking citizens to pony up additional taxes for everything from better roads, parks, ball stadiums, and beautification of rivers, only to administer disgraceful fines such as this,” his response was that traffic fine revenue generated less than 1% of the aggregate city budget. That was not the point of my question.

Mr. Eagleton then stated he really doubted my daughter was just simply going thru the parking lot but that she was probably speeding thru the parking lot, effectively calling my daughter and me liars. The police officer did not ticket my daughter for reckless driving, speeding, or anything else but simply for entering the neighborhood where no right turn was allowed. Being she was following another car driven by an adult who also happened to get stopped, Mr. Eagleton’s accusation is not only offensive but ludicrous.

I had enough of Mr. Eagleton and asked if he would like me to convey his responses to my homeowner's association and his constituents. He laughed and told me, “not only would I do so but I highly encourage you to do so.” Quote, unquote. I cut him off as he began to patronize about national traffic statistics and death, as if I somehow that fact should be satisfactory for an underling like me.

I realized tonight that I have been very negligent by not getting more involved in our local government and very negligent for simply pulling a lever for local party affiliation – the same one Mr. Eagleton belongs to. That won’t happen again.

And yes David V, I think Tulsa well on its way to become a more refined Hulbert, OK.

Brent, Councilor Eagleton hasn't asked anyone to pony up additional taxes for anything and in fact opposed the tax increase for river projects.

Cut-through traffic is a real sore spot in that neighborhood, and the city has taken measures to discourage it. If there was a police officer sitting there to write tickets, it was probably because the neighborhood or the business whose parking lot it was had complaining about people breaking the rules again.

A few years ago, I was issued a citation for not coming to a complete stop at a four-way intersection in neighborhood. Drivers had been blowing through the stop sign and some pets had been killed, so an officer had been assigned to watch that intersection for a time. It was unlucky for me to have been caught, but in fact I'd become careless and had done plenty of "California rolling stops." Since that ticket (and paying a fine and attending driving school to keep the points off my record), I've been much more careful about stop signs.

Brent Taylor Author Profile Page said:

A few years ago, I was issued a citation for not coming to a complete stop at a four-way intersection in neighborhood. Drivers had been blowing through the stop sign and some pets had been killed, so an officer had been assigned to watch that intersection for a time. It was unlucky for me to have been caught, but in fact I'd become careless and had done plenty of "California rolling stops." Since that ticket (and paying a fine and attending driving school to keep the points off my record), I've been much more careful about stop signs.

That's great Michael - we're all entitled to our opinions about public officials. And being a registered Republican in Mr. Eagleton's district, I've heard about his tax fighting prowess just as I hear the same meme from every Republican candidate. Perhaps you can tell me your association with our fine councilman?

However, my daughter didn't "blow through" anything nor "kill anyone" so I find your analogy pretty weak. I doubt she was moving more than five miles an hour or the officer surely would have issued a larger fine than Mr. Eagleton's minimum - the offense was "avoiding traffic control." Too bad we couldn't have caught the names of the rest of the marauding offenders. I'd love to hear their take on Councilman Eagleton's revenue generation, I mean traffic control procedures. Maybe I can find that out.

I feel confident a warning would have been plenty to have taught my daughter the lesson. I'm just absolutely sure that is Councilman Eagleton's real concern - her safety.

This article explains all I need to know about Mr. Eagleton and his respective attitude on the phone tonight. Abuses of power need to be addressed and I believe I'll take John up on his offer about addressing the home owner's association where I reside when I get the time. In fact, the email is already in process.

Sorry Michael, I have no beef with you. I think you for letting me use your site to express my opinion about what I see not only abuse but downright corruption by an elected official - and this stinks to high heaven. Your poster named David V. is right - in fact, prophetic.

Brent Taylor Author Profile Page said:

Oh, one last thing Michael. I made an assumption that this was the intent of your blog and that everyone likes traffic. If not, tell me and I'll contact those I've directed here from my party (not political but friend). You know how emails get passed and your traffic to the page might take a little spike before this is thru.

Because I was able to find this article, I have forwarded this on to several people who are more than happy to assist me about introducing Mr. Eagleton and his traffic policies to possibly a greater public. If Councilman Eagleton is as true as you suggest, I would think he would appreciate that. Hopefully, I can assist in letting more of the public make up their minds about our councilman's intent.

You mention abuse and "downright corruption." I'm not sure I understand. Who in your opinion is abusing their power or using it for personal gain?

The last increase in traffic fines in Tulsa (to $115 for most moving violations) was approved by the City Council on August 28, 2003. Only one current city councilor -- Bill Christiansen -- was on the Council at that time, so I'm not sure how Eagleton is responsible for this. Before that, most fines were $80, which Chief Dave Been said at the time were among the lowest in the region. Fines need to be high enough to be a deterrent and to cover the cost of traffic enforcement.

I understand you're upset that your baby girl is upset over getting a ticket. Consider it a valuable life lesson, better learned earlier than later on. My children are still a few years away from driving age, but if one of them were to get a ticket, I'd tell them to earn the money to pay the fine and to pay for driving school to keep the points off their record. You break the law, you deal with the consequences. If you think the law is unjust, lobby for its repeal.

The law against "avoiding traffic control" (Title 37, Section 609) has been in place since long before any current city official was in office. I remember my mother getting a ticket for cutting through a gas station parking lot at least 30 years ago. Cutting through a parking lot creates a hazard for the people who are using it for its intended purpose. If it were your business, would you want people cutting through your parking lot?

Brent Taylor Author Profile Page said:

I understand you're upset that your baby girl is upset over getting a ticket. Consider it a valuable life lesson, better learned earlier than later on. My children are still a few years away from driving age, but if one of them were to get a ticket, I'd tell them to earn the money to pay the fine and to pay for driving school to keep the points off their record. You break the law, you deal with the consequences. If you think the law is unjust, lobby for its repeal.

I think you for the information about our present traffic fine process. It's nice to meet one the legal bureaucrats who are in the know. I'll know where to turn next time I have a question about who to call. I obviously have to claim ignorance. But that still doesn't excuse Mr. Eagleton's behavior on the phone last night nor his condescending manner.

However, you and our councilor John Eagleton have reminded me of the most patronizing of politicians. Not only do you appear to know what's best for each of us, including your recommendations of how we small constituents should deal appropriately with our children, you preach while doing so. Why, if I didn't know better you would sound almost like our liberal Democratic friends who know what's best for all of us. I must say, as a Republican, my conversation with you and Mr. Eagleton has been a real eye opener; so much so I actually watched my first council meeting last night just to find out who Mr. Eagleton is. It was like watching a three ring circus as our politicians picked their noses while asking their insipid questions. It's no wonder the city is going in the dumper and I'd rather again watch paint dry.

What amazes me is why guys of your persuasion seem confused as to why most of the American public tunes out and becomes extremely cynical of anything or anyone politic. You don't think that the public trust of politicians ranking somewhere left of used car salesman was simply random chance do you? Who of sound mind wants to deal with the pompousity and ineptness unless forced to do so? If you think me wrong, take a stroll to any public place and ask your voters what they think of when dealing with anything of City Hall.

Where you and part ways is that you find a $120 minimum fine the only deterrent to a moving traffic violation. Perhaps you were the precocious 17 year old, stopped the first time by the police and felt emboldened. My daughter did not. Personally, I think you and Mr. Eagleton know all about the letter of the law but I question your sincerity when you speak of the spirit of the law. That being, we will pay the fine but not without me telling John, you, the police, Mayor Kathy, or anybody else affiliated with our government exactly what I think of your methods.

You ask me why I think this corrupt or abusive. I agree this was some disgruntled business owner who was probably bent that people were cutting through his parking lot. Is it a hassle for him? Sure. Did it really endanger anyone? Probably not - and surely not the degree we all see at every red light as people rip thru the intersection. Where are the police then? Exactly who determined this priority? You're not going to convince me this isn't simple revenue generation. Anyone recognizes it. It's almost offensive you think us too stupid not to realize it. David V. is right - that's corruption and that's abusing power.

Quid pro quo...you seem to know all, why is an access road designed this way to begin with? Doesn't our illustrious councilman not realize in order to make your way back to the neighborhood from the access road legally, you literally have to drive a mile out of your way, taking two major thoroughfares (41st and Sheridan) to do so? Which genius came up with this idea at City Hall? Why's our crime rate increasing? Why is it the police can't direct traffic but they can hide in the bushes with their radar? Took me 45 minutes last year to make my way to Bishop Kelley while construction was ongoing for the road widening of the Skelly Bypass - traffic couldn't move north or south. When I called the police and ask why they didn't have somebody directing traffic so it could at least move north, the officers answer was, "it's too hot and we would have to pay overtime." But, less than three miles down the road that morning, what do we find but a motorcycle hiding in the bushes with radar. So what is Michael; corrupt, dishonest or inept?

One more thing and I'll leave you alone. Like I said, my beef isn't really with you. I've lived in Tulsa all my life. If I read your blog correctly and it was quickly done, you appear to be a staunch Conservative; me too. You appear to vote often; me too. Your site reads the prototypical Republican mantra. I'm on board. Christian? If so, I'm there also brother. I assume you run in the professional circle of friends, mostly of like mind. So do I and virtually all Republican. So why the need to offend or is that the new Republican strategy to garner more votes? If so, might want to rethink it.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on December 1, 2007 11:54 PM.

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