The Somerville Police Traffic Unit, Angels on Wheels

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By William Tauro

The City of Somerville, one of the finest cities on the face of the planet, is lucky enough to have in our very own Police Department, the Somerville Police Traffic Unit!

This great group of police offices are a credit to the City of Somerville and its citizens!

They are always on scene to make sure that traffic is flowing safely throughout the city.

Over this past weekend, we observed the Somerville Traffic Unit providing an escort to a rather large Somerville funeral with close to one hundred vehicles.

They provided a safe passage route for the large procession to make its way from Somerville to the burial location in Malden at the Holy Cross Cemetery for the grieving family.

Many times when we see scenes like this out and about, we often don’t really give it much thought and sometimes take it for granted. But the reality of it all is that these officers provided some comfort for a grieving Somerville family that made a world of difference for them when they needed it most.

The Traffic Bureau is part of the Uniformed Patrol Division. It is comprised of one Lieutenant, one Sergeant, five officers who are assigned to traffic enforcement and crash investigation, one officer assigned as the School Safety Officer and one Documentation Officer. The Traffic Unit operates eight Harley Davidson motorcycles, three specially equipped traffic vehicles and two speed monitoring trailers. The Traffic Bureau also oversees sixty three School Crossing Guards.

Lieutenant James Polito is the Commander of the Traffic Bureau. Lieutenant James Polito is also the Police Chief’s representative to the Somerville Traffic Commission. Sergeant John Gobiel is the Unit Supervisor. Sergeant Gobiel is also the Department designated Hackney Officer, who is responsible for testing current and prospective taxi cab drivers and issuing hackney operator licenses. He also inspects the city’s fleet of 95 taxi cabs annually and randomly throughout the year.

The mission of the Traffic Unit is to promote expeditious traffic flow that enhances traffic safety for all residents of, and visitors to, the City of Somerville through education, enforcement and investigation. Although enforcement is a major function of the Traffic Unit, other functions include enforcing non-traffic related laws; collision prevention and investigation; accident reconstruction, impaired driver enforcement, escorts for large funeral processions and dignitary protection; Traffic control at civic functions, responding to citizen complaints, prosecution at traffic court hearings, enforcing Board of Aldermen orders, towing and oversight of city contracted tow company; Taxi Cab oversight including all licensing and background checks of drivers and inspections of all taxi vehicles.

All officers in the Traffic Bureau have received a variety of specialized training which includes motorcycle operation, radar/lidar operation, accident investigation, accident reconstruction and commercial vehicle and truck enforcement. The number one goal of the Somerville Police Traffic Bureau is to reduce accidents throughout the city.

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