Who’s minding the traffic?

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    With the much anticipated reopening of the PCH, commuters and residents once again face a morning commute fraught with new opportunities for delay. However, most of us know that, throughout most of the year, it isn’t the occasional rock slide that most imperils arriving at work on time. It’s the frequent traffic signal outages that can back up traffic for miles and turn a 40-minute commute into one twice that long. But the problem isn’t confined to the faulty signals; it’s also the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department. On three separate mornings this spring, my fellow commuters and I made our glacial progress towards an inevitable blinking red traffic light only to find a sheriff’s deputy parked beside the road bearing witness to the bedlam. In any other county, a police officer would leave the air conditioned comfort of his patrol car and direct traffic. There was no cross traffic at all at these intersections and the backup could have been cleared out in 10 minutes with the help of the phlegmatic deputy. Instead, a routine commute turns into a nightmare with needless delays, increased chances for accidents, and wasted fuel by all. Now, undoubtedly it must be more fun for the deputies to fly hyper-expensive helicopters and employ sophisticated laser and radar devices to issue speeding tickets. But one is left to wonder: Is routine traffic work beneath the L.A. Sheriff’s Department? Is it unreasonable for Malibu residents to expect that our police not be limited to endlessly buzzing our homes with their helicopters all the while traffic backs up to Ventura?

    Eberhard Petersen