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Ask Dr. Delay: Shedding light on law enforcement jurisdiction

It's a mystery to some readers as to which law enforcement organizations respond to accidents in certain parts of the county. No doubt the boundaries of the two dozen municipalities in Pinellas County are not always as clear as we would like. We have corridors that start in one part of the county as city roads then change to state roads (and sometimes back again to city roads) depending on the cross streets and municipality. It's a crazy quilt of accountability and jurisdiction both from a road and equipment maintenance perspective to law enforcement.

Reader Bill Balmer of Seminole wrote: "Earlier this year on Indian Rocks Road, a car swerved into my lane. I barely avoided a head-on collision but clipped a roadside sign that took off my right side mirror and scratched up and dented the right side of my vehicle. I wanted to get an official police report to use when filing my insurance report. It turned out that I was about 75 feet outside the limits of Largo in unincorporated Pinellas County. The Largo Police Department would not respond because it was outside their jurisdiction. I expected that the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office would respond as there is a Sheriff's Office in Belleair Bluffs less than 2 miles away. Wrong! I had to wait for about an hour for a Florida Highway Patrol car to show up. My question is, why doesn't the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office cover a situation like I have described?"

The Doc shared Balmer's question with Pinellas County Sheriff Jim Coats, who said that the Florida Highway Patrol is responsible for responding to calls about vehicle accidents in unincorporated areas of the county. Of the 24 municipalities in Pinellas, the Sheriff's Office responds to calls in 12, in addition to calls from unincorporated areas of the county. And while the FHP is responsible for responding to crashes in the unincorporated areas, if a sheriff's deputy happens on the scene, the deputy will provide assistance. And in the event of serious crashes, deputies will always stop and render aid and remain on the scene until the FHP arrives.

"If we roll up on a crash in unincorporated areas, we will help out — if we arrive at a crash in Largo, for example, we will manage traffic and assist FHP with whatever they need. We also check in with the FHP and ask them what their approximate response time will be and if it looks like there's going to be a delay of over an hour, oftentimes we will go ahead and work the crash," Coats said.

Last year, in lieu of response from the FHP, the Sheriff's Office responded to 936 crashes in unincorporated Pinellas County, according to their data. In addition, they assisted the FHP in responding to 1,252 other crashes in 2010.

SunPass adds Spanish, mobile app for website

Florida's Turnpike officials rolled out a new Spanish version of the SunPass.com website last week. SunPass, Florida's electronic tolling system, also unveiled a new mobile application, which allows users to access SunPass from smart phones by typing www.SunPass.com into the smartphone browser.

Barricade watch

• Drainage and road work on 134th Street from Park Boulevard to where it dead-ends, which began in May, is set to be complete toward the end of this week.

• Work to install wheelchair accessible ramps on Ridgemoor Boulevard at Ridgemoor Drive will continue until Aug. 5. Motorists should be prepared for intermittent lane closures.

• Milling and resurfacing of Starkey Road from Park Boulevard to Bardmoor Boulevard should finish up by the middle of next week. Work on Starkey from north of Bryan Dairy Road to East Bay Drive is set to be complete the second week of August. Expect delays and detours.

Until next week, happy and safe motoring!

Please e-mail Dr. Delay at DocDelay@gmail.com to share your traffic concerns, comments and questions. Questions selected for publication may be edited for space and clarity. Follow the Doc by going to facebook.com and searching for Ask Dr Delay.

Ask Dr. Delay: Shedding light on law enforcement jurisdiction 07/16/11 [Last modified: Friday, July 15, 2011 2:06pm]
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