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Queens Chronicle

Update on new traffic law tops 102nd Pct. meeting

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Posted: Thursday, March 24, 2011 12:00 pm

   It's now the law. When you see flashing emergency vehicle lights on the shoulder of the road — move over.

   Deputy Inspector Amin Kosseim of the NYPD Community Affairs Division told members of the 102nd Precinct Community Council at their meeting last week that under a recently passed law drivers are now required to slow down to 20 mph below the posted speed limit and move over at least one lane when they see flashing emergency lights on the side of the road.

   The new law took effect Jan. 1 and is named in memory of Onondaga County Sheriff Deputy Glenn Searles and State Trooper Robert Ambrose, both of whom lost their lives responding to roadside emergencies.

   It is similar to the existing law requiring drivers to move over when they see flashing emergency lights approaching behind them.

   The Ambrose-Searles Move Over Act requires drivers to reduce their speed when encountering parked, stopped or standing emergency vehicles that have their lights activated on the side of the road. On parkways, interstates, and other controlled-access highways with multiple lanes, drivers are further required to move from the lane immediately adjacent to the emergency vehicle, unless traffic or other hazards exist to prevent doing so safely.

   Failing to do this could result in fines of up to $275, mandatory state surcharges of either $80 or $85, depending on the court, and up to 15 days in jail.

   The moving violation also would place two points on a driver's license.

   The inspector also advised the council members about the Civilian Observation Patrol. Kosseim recommended it so residents can police their neighborhood, improve quality of life and keep crime down.

   The inspector also discussed the NYPD Ride-Along program, where residents can travel with officers in a police car for two hours to see and understand what an officer does during a tour of duty.

   Kosseim further talked about the NYPD Summer Youth Programs.

   The Summer Youth Police Academy is a program for city youths between the ages of 10 and 17. Participants engage in military drills, similar to what recruits at the Police Academy experience, and take field trips to police facilities. The Academy runs during July and August from Monday to Thursday from 8 am to 2 pm.

   Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley’s (D-Middle Village) spokeswoman, Kate Mooney, asked at the meeting why some Franklin K. Lane High School students waiting for busses that were late due to breakdowns were being picked up by police officers for truancy.

   “It's terrifying for the young children,” she said. “They're getting removed, taken downtown, missing a whole day of school due to poor service on the MTA.”

   Kosseim said he would look into the matter and have someone get back to her.

   Reported crime complaints were up by 21 percent for the year to date compared to the same period last year, but Capt. Martin Briffa, executive officer of the 102nd Precinct, told the council members that arrests were also up. Felony assault arrests increased by 56 percent and robbery arrests were up by 19 percent.

   Briffa said that 68 summonses were issued for bicycle traffic violations, including riding on the sidewalk, passing red lights and stop signs, a 119 percent increase since last year.

   Capt. Briffa updated the council members on the abandoned house at 88-32 80th St. in Woodhaven.

   He said police arrested five individuals at the location for trespassing on private property.

   The city sealed the house a day after the precinct meeting.

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