By Victor O'Brien
Killeen Daily Herald
Killeen police Officer Jay Petty gets attacked almost daily but not from hardened criminals.
Drivers along U.S. Highway 190 speed by and narrowly miss Petty while he tickets other drivers or responds to emergencies.
"It happens almost with a daily occurrence. They don't scoot over, and we nearly get struck," Petty said Wednesday.
Killeen police ran a special traffic enforcement detail Wednesday targeting drivers who endanger officers. The detail was aimed at protecting emergency responders such as Petty, Killeen police spokeswoman Carroll Smith said.
"I've nearly been struck more times than I can remember," Petty said. "It's senseless because it can very well easily be avoided by slowing a vehicle down or changing lanes."
Killeen police ticketed 23 drivers during the three-hour detail on U.S. 190 Wednesday. Another nine drivers escaped because the three officers were writing tickets for other drivers.
During the detail, an officer parked with his emergency lights on while other officers waited to ticket speeders. Police performed the detail along U.S. 190 between the W.S. Young Drive and Stan Schlueter Loop overpasses.
Texas law requires drivers to change lanes or slow to 20 mph below the speed limit when passing an emergency vehicle.
Many ticketed drivers complained that they did not know about the law, Petty said.
In past years, drivers complained that more awareness was needed before police ticketed drivers. Killeen police have publicized the message several times and the LED displays over U.S. 190 broadcast the law to drivers late last year, Petty said.
Letters in water bills and awareness signs may frustrate drivers less, but they are also less effective.
"Unfortunately, some people learn by getting a citation," Smith said.
The detail isn't to generate revenue, Smith said.
"I would rather someone learn by getting a simple citation than by hitting an officer, seriously injuring or killing them and getting charged that way."
If numbers are any indication, then drivers appear to be absorbing the message. The 23 drivers ticketed Wednesday were almost half the 45 drivers ticketed during a two-hour detail in July 2008.
Contact Victor O'Brien at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7468. Follow him on Twitter at KDHcrime.