From left, Troy police officers Carlo Pizzorni, Gail Jasak, Rachel Pink, Endrit Fjolla, Robert Smith and Sgt. Justin Novak, who compose the newly formed Traffic Safety Unit, assemble at the Troy Police Department after their shift ends Aug. 23.

From left, Troy police officers Carlo Pizzorni, Gail Jasak, Rachel Pink, Endrit Fjolla, Robert Smith and Sgt. Justin Novak, who compose the newly formed Traffic Safety Unit, assemble at the Troy Police Department after their shift ends Aug. 23.

Photo provided by the Troy Police Department


Traffic Safety Unit keeps eyes on highways and byways

By: Terry Oparka | Troy Times | Published August 28, 2018

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TROY — Disassembled in 2008 due to the economic downturn, the re-created Troy Police Department Traffic Safety Unit has eyes everywhere — especially near Oakland Mall and intersections on Big Beaver Road that have been identified as frequent crash areas. 

The Troy City Council unanimously approved a $165.7 million 2018-19 budget that includes $593,000 for a Traffic Safety Unit May 7. 

The cost includes money for one new sergeant, three new officers and four vehicles. 

Police Capt. Robert Redmond told the council during an April 19 budget study session that 28 percent of calls for service are traffic-related, and from 2010 to 2017, traffic crashes increased by 11.9 percent in the city. 

The unit started duty July 9. 

Troy Police Lt. Josh Jones explained to C & G Newspapers that after the unit was cut in 2008, the Troy Police Department still had officers focus on traffic issues.

“We didn’t have extra officers to focus on traffic. We took a lot of complaints from residents with specific traffic problems in their neighborhood, construction cut-through traffic, speeding and stop sign violations,” Jones said.

“We did our very best to send officers out there, but it was a pretty consistent complaint,” Jones said. “We felt it was important to address it with the Traffic Safety Unit. The new initiative has allowed us to respond to those (traffic complaints) more thoroughly.” 

Jones noted that Troy’s population doubles in the daytime hours with people driving to office buildings for jobs and to shopping destinations. 

“Historically, it (traffic safety) was one of the things citizens have brought to council. They (the council) didn’t hesitate and funded us and gave us the manpower to do it,” he said.

From July 9 to July 26, the unit issued more than 700 citations and warnings, with 10 percent of the total as warnings. There were 33 arrests made.

The incidents included a stop where police discovered that a driver had several forged medical marijuana cards, a stop of a 32,000-pound truck with an unsafe load, and an arrest of a drunken driver. 

“We’re here to get the message across; it’s not about the numbers,” said Troy Police Sgt. Justin Novak, who supervises the unit, to C & G Newspapers. “We address violations that could cause crashes.” 

The unit has officers who specialize in crash investigations, which requires training to investigate fatal crashes, Novak said. 

“As the older officers with the training as expert witnesses, accident reconstructionists and technicians retire out, the unit is addressing the backfill as they leave,” Novak said. 

Novak said that all five of the officers in the unit — Carlo Pizzorni, Gail Jasak, Rachel Pink, Endrit Fjolla and Robert Smith — are on track to be technicians, and two plan to train to be reconstructionists. 

The unit is able to use data from Oakland County’s Courts and Law Enforcement Management Information System and the Traffic Improvement Association to identify high-crash areas.

“We can change schedules and days off to address what comes up,” Novak added.

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