Downtown slowdown enforced

William R. Toler | Daily Journal Two Rockingham police officers speak with a driver and passenger in a car pulled over for speeding Thursday morning.

ROCKINGHAM — Police are cracking down on speeding — and some drivers have found out the hard way.

Chief Billy Kelly said Wednesday that the department had received “numerous complaints of speeding” in the downtown area. The posted speed limit downtown is 20 miles per hour.

Kelly said 27 citations were handed out from May 18-27.

Late last July, police ran an aggressive campaign they said was an effort to reduce crashes in the city limits.

“People are continuing to speed,” Kelly said, so officers are stepping up enforcement. “They’re up there daily.”

A sign has been posted on Fayetteville Road, before entering downtown, to warn drivers of the speed enforcement zone and the decrease in speed limit.

At least three drivers were pulled over near the Daily Journal office between 11 a.m. and 12 p.m. on Thursday. Three more were stopped between 2:15 and 3:15.

Officers have been seen scoping out speeders by sitting on North Hancock Street — near the intersection with East Washington Street — and in the parking lot of Discovery Place Kids in both marked and unmarked patrol cars.

If they spot someone driving too fast, they pull behind and flash their lights and sirens to get the driver to stop, which they do usually in or just past Harrington Square.

“Traveling faster than the posted limit or traveling faster than conditions safely permit is a violation of the law,” Kelly said in an email on Thursday. “However, officers exercise discretion on when deciding if a verbal warning, written warning or citation is appropriate. Consideration is given to such factors as weather conditions, traffic volume, pedestrian traffic and location, while being mindful that excessive speed correlates directly with high incidents of crashes.”

Kelly said Rockingham officers are “not trying to hide” or increase the number of citations.

“Our goal is just not to see anyone hurt and decrease collisions,” he said.

According to Kelly, speeding tickets for simple infractions — speeds up to 15 mph more than the posted limit — come with a $30 fine plus $188 in court costs. Anyone caught driving more than 15 mph faster is charged with a misdemeanor, which is a $50 fine and $190 in court costs.

With the increased foot traffic in the area — including customers dining at Pattan’s Downtown Grille, visitors to Discovery Place and residents walking and jogging for exercise — Kelly wants drivers to be cautious.

“Be mindful of the speed limit,” he said. “Slow down — especially during the daytime.”

Reach reporter William R. Toler at 910-817-2675 and follow him on Twitter @William_r_Toler.