Trinity Mount Ministries

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Shreveport, Caddo officers still unable to enforce child safety law:

Bossier City police write tickets for cell phone use in school zones when their Shreveport counterparts cannot

By Sara Machi
Shreveport Police's Troy Flores joined traffic patrol because he was run over by a distracted driver as a child
Shreveport Police's Troy Flores joined traffic patrol because he was run over by a distracted driver as a child
Shreveport Police's Troy Flores takes his job in SPD's traffic unit seriously because he knows what can happen if he doesn't.
"When I was 9 years old, I was run over by a car."
Now a corporal, Flores spent a year re-learning how to walk and eventually headed toward a life in law enforcement. Yet when Flores and his fellow traffic officers  post up in school zones for traffic enforcement on the first day of school Aug. 11, there's a Louisiana law he has no choice but to ignore.
"They already know it's illegal," Flores said. "Sometimes they need a little reminder that 'Hey, put the cell phone down. It's not that important.'"
Previous article: Cell phones in school zones
Shreveport school zones have speed limit warnings, but no signs about the law banning cell phones in these special areas. Those missing markers are the problem.
The law requires specific signage warning motorists of the ban, and without them an officer's hands are tied, even though this will be the second school year since legislators banned hand-held devices behind the wheel. 
While SPD can't enforce the ban, Bossier City police rolled out their "hands-free zone" signs during the 2014 fall semester.
"We make signs all the time -- street signs -- so when you look at the grand scheme of things, the cost is minimal," Bossier City spokesperson Mark Natale said.
BCPD's only written a handful of tickets for cell phones behind the wheel. Natale attributes the low numbers to officers giving warnings and to awareness.
"We want motorists to pay attention to what they're doing and that's operating a motor vehicle."
Funding is behind most of the cell phone zone confusion. Louisiana DOTD only put up hands-free signs on state roads. Everything else, they left up to individual municipalities.
Bossier City fronted their costs. Bossier Parish Schools and then-Rep. Jeff Thompson, who wrote the bill, split the cost for school zones outside city limits.
When KTBS 3 News contacted Shreveport and Caddo authorities about their missing signs, most people thought the law was being enforced or didn't realize the need for special warning plaques.
City of Shreveport authorities are still getting back to us about whether or not they will pay for the signs. Caddo Commissioners Lyndon Johnson and Matthew Linn indicated they would look into putting sign funds on the next agenda.

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