Beware Aspen’s Main Street dragnet |

Beware Aspen’s Main Street dragnet

Charles Agar
The Aspen Times
Aspen CO, Colorado

ASPEN ” West Main Street is known ” and often reviled ” for its traffic jams. It’s also a hotbed for speeding ticket citations.

Police focus on the area because it’s a long, straight stretch of road where drivers either accelerate after entering town through the S-curves or “beat feet out of town,” according to Aspen police Sgt. Dan Davis.

With crosswalks along West Main Street, it’s an important stretch to monitor and at least maintain a police presence, Davis said. The speed limit is 25 mph.

Aspen officer Jeff Fain has been the most prolific ticket writer of late, issuing 263 citations since September, Davis said. Rookie officer Rick Magnuson wrote some 214 citations in the same period.

“Most everybody’s stops are at West Main,” Davis said, estimating some 90 percent of local traffic stops are there. “We get a lot of complaints about speeding on Main Street.”

Though police respond to complaints from citizens or react to traffic conditions or events in Aspen, officers going out on patrol individually decide where they’ll patrol and what they’ll look for, Davis said.

The Aspen Police Department’s recent staff shortage, however, has meant that patrolling for traffic violations isn’t at the usual levels as officers are busy responding to criminal calls or doing investigative work, Davis said.

“We definitely focus on the West End area,” said Aspen Police Chief Richard Pryor, noting that the department receives numerous complaints about commuters zipping through the Victorian neighborhood to escape rush hour traffic. Officers also watch that situation closely, Pryor said.

The Aspen Police Department has been short as many as 10 officers in recent years, Pryor said, and it will take until near the end of 2008 to get staff levels back up, which could mean increased patrols and a stronger local presence.

But there are no “ticket Nazis” in the department, Pryor said, and patrolling is as much about connecting with people in the community as it is handing out warnings.

“It’s a discretionary thing,” Pryor said.

Officer Terry Leitch said handing out a warning or giving a driver a break on the level of offense goes a long way toward goodwill.


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