STTOP starts

March was declared Community Safety month by the La Cañada Flintridge City Council and, in keeping with that declaration, the Crescenta Valley Sheriff's Station has begun a program with a goal of making the roadways safer.

STTOP, Sheriff's Teen Traffic Offender Program, has officially begun in La Cañada and the unincorporated areas of Crescenta Valley. The program, which was started in Lost Hills/Malibu, is an educational outreach that targets reckless driving by teenagers.

“It gives parents [and the sheriff's station] additional eyes on their teen drivers,” explained Sgt. Mark Slater.

If community members see teens driving recklessly, they can get their license plate number and call a special telephone number at the sheriff's station to report the incident.

Deputies will then track down the registered owner of the vehicle and stop by their residence.

“This is not punitive,” Slater said. “It is just more education to let the parents know what is going on. It is most likely that the vehicle being driven is in the parent's name.”

Often times a member of the community will call the station to report reckless driving, but by the time the deputies get to the area of the incident the vehicle is gone, Slater said.

Capt. Dave Silversparre added that this could be used in tracking down those chronic bad driver reports as well.

“If, for example, the [person reporting] sees a green BMW driving recklessly in this specific direction every single day, which often happens because kids take the same route leaving school, they are able to report it,” he said.

The caller can either leave their name and ask to be updated on what deputies found, or they can report anonymously. Slater said that he is not too concerned that people might make false reports.

“It's a concern everyday if the calls coming into the station are legitimate,” Slater said. “But this isn't punitive and it is very low- key. It is an educational program.”

Although the program is designed for teen drivers, they are not the only drivers that can be reported. Slater said that when he saw the program in action at Santa Clarita, many times the deputies would find that it was the adult in the family that had been driving recklessly.

Silversparre said the goal is to identify reckless driving and educate the parents and teen drivers, which will ultimately make the roadways safer for everyone in the community.

“One thing I remind parents about is that until their child is 18, they sign for the driver's license,” he said. “The parents can take it away faster than the DMV. And until they are 18, the parent is liable.”

Brochures on the program are available at the CV Sheriff's Station. Anyone who would like to report a reckless driver can call (818) 957-6132. They will be asked to leave the information on a recording, which will be checked by deputies.

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