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Errant Drivers Could Get an Unexpected Gift

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Call it a little Christmas gift, compliments of the Torrance Police Department.

In the spirit of the season, police say they may be a bit more lenient with drivers over the holiday period.

For example, if a driver commits a minor traffic infraction, such as failing to come to a complete halt at a stop sign, he or she would still be waved over by police. But then, unexpectedly, the detaining officer could a issue a polite green-and-white warning decorated with ornaments and a holiday wreath, instead of a Scrooge-like traffic citation.

“The Torrance Police Department is concerned about your safety during this festive and busy time of year, and asks you to be more attentive to your driving,” reads the warning, which goes on to offer “best wishes for a Happy Holiday Season.”

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Torrance police began the holiday practice in 1989 and have stepped up publicity about it this year. The warnings will be issued through Dec. 31.

Holiday warnings might be given to drivers who make “rolling stops” at stop signs or cross an intersection as the light turns red, said Torrance Chief Joseph C. De Ladurantey, an advocate of community-based policing who took charge of the department this month. He is encouraging officers to use the warnings whenever possible.

Each officer has the discretion to give a driver a warning or a citation.

Between 30 and 45 holiday warnings are being issued daily, with the number creeping upward as Christmas approaches, police said. The program began Nov. 29, the day after Thanksgiving.

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Sometimes the effect of a warning is as lasting as a citation, De Ladurantey said.

“And, it gives the public a good feeling,” he said.


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