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Front Page » May 14, 2002 » Local News » Agencies Launch Law Enforcement Effort on U.S. 6
Published 4,892 days ago

Agencies Launch Law Enforcement Effort on U.S. 6

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Staff reporter

State deputy public safety commissioner Earl Morris briefs UHP personnel on the procedures for conducting last week's law enforcement campaign on U.S. Highway 6. Morris ordered the Utah Highway Patrol troopers to issue few warnings and accept few excuses for poor driving from motorists stopped for traffic violations, starting Thursday morning. Along with UHP troopers, the intensive enforcement effort involved motorcycle officers, helicopters and representatives from Utah County Sheriff's Office. In addition, media from across the state converged at the pullover on U.S. 6 from Covered Bridge Road in Spanish Fork Canyon.

As the helicopters landed last Thursday, local residents and visiting motorists slowed vehicles to watch as officers from the highway patrol, Utah County Sheriff's Office and media from across the state converged at the pullover on U.S. 6 from Covered Bridge Road in Spanish Fork Canyon.

The massive law enforcement campaign slowed drivers down all weekend, indicated the Utah Highway Patrol. The gathering of police equipment and manpower was the beginning of a special enforcement period in the Spanish Fork-Soldiers Summit-Price Canyon section of U.S. Highway.

"We stopped 286 vehicles on this side of Soldier's Summit last weekend for various kinds of violations," said UHP Lt. Steve Esplin from the local office Monday morning. "We issued 179 citations and 178 warnings. Most of the violations were for speeding - with lane violations, improper passing and signal violations being the next largest group of infractions."

The obvious concentration of officers was on the Spanish Fork side because of the higher traffic volume. But extra law enforcement personnel and aircraft also helped on the eastern side of the summit.

The Thursday morning meeting was led by deputy department of public safety commissioner Earl Morris. Lined up along the pull-off were 14 UHP and Utah County patrol cars and sports utility vehicles along with six motorcycles and two helicopters. One of the highway patrol's 11 K-9 units was also there.

"I think this is the first time that we have used motors (motorcycles) in this canyon," pointed out Morris last Thursday. "We are going to go all out to show people that we not only care about what happens in this canyon, but that we want the law enforced here. That will save lives and that is what we are here to do."

Morris ordered UHP troopers to issue few warnings and accept few excuses for poor driving.

"I have had calls from many who travel this canyon pleading with us to do something," said Morris, standing with Utah Sen. Mike Dmitrich. "Some people have very angry with me on the phone. Everyone has been complaining that the canyon is unsafe and that we don't do enough to enforce the laws. Well, now they will be complaining that we are there too much and are issuing too many citations."

"This is a part of the solution," noted Dmitrich. "The other part is that people just need to drive more carefully. The work on the road that the Utah Department of Transportation us doing is another part. The four-lane road through the canyon can't happen tomorrow, but things are getting better all the time."

The motor law enforcement units concentrated a great deal on the Billy's Mountain area of the canyon roadway, where travelers seem to build up a lot of speed.

The early morning May sun came over the mountains as Utah Highway Patrol and Utah County Sheriffs officers met at the pulloff near Covered Bridge Road in Spanish Fork Canyon last Thursday morning. The meeting was set up to coordinate officers movements on Highway 6 during the period of special enforcement that ran through Sunday. However, according to officials, some of that heavy enforcement will continue indefinitely and on days that will not be publicized. Some of that enforcement will come with the use of aircraft monitoring the speed of motorists.

For four days, the law enforcement officers ran intercept details while a number of patrol cars ran the radar surveillance and radio to the motor troops.

At all times during the weekend crackdown, law enforcement personnel patrolling the stretch of four-lane highway could be observed pulling over motorists breaking the law or writing traffic violation citations for offending drivers.

"We have done this type of enforcement before in other areas, but this is the first time on Highway 6," explained Esplin.

"Not long ago, we did it in Salt Lake and it really changed the traffic patterns. The regular officers could handle the accidents and other incidents, and the special officers could continue to monitor traffic. Of course we don't have the number of people we need to do this all the time, but it shows what can be done," continued the UHP representative.

It was obvious to the majority of the people who happened to be driving along the canyon roadway that the increased law enforcement presence changed the travel habits for individuals who use U.S. 6 on a regular basis.

But what about the out of state motorists?

"My experience was that I pulled over a lot of out of staters," stated Esplin. "However, many of the other officers pulled over a great many people from Salt Lake and Utah County as well as locals from Carbon County. It looks to be fairly evenly split between the groups."

According to Morris, the Utah Highway Patrol has no intention of quitting after last weekend's short period of beefed up law enforcement on U.S. 6.

"From now on, we are going to have fixed wing aircraft and helicopters patrolling the canyon at least two days a week," indicated the state's deputy public safety director.

Esplin reminded Carbon and Emery County motorists that increased law enforcement efforts will not always be publicized like last weekend's massive campaign was.

"We are going to keep it up, particularly with the aircraft, but we are not going to tell people which days it will be done," concluded Esplin.

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