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Resident advisory committee to link CHP, public

April 19, 2001|By KELLY GRANT, Staff Writer

Imperial Valley residents have a new way to express concerns to the California Highway Patrol regarding community traffic issues.

The CHP's Imperial Valley resident advisory committee, a group of 12 citizens from across the county, has established a post office box to which residents can send comments and concerns.

"It's another avenue to broaden our communication (between the public and the Highway Patrol)," said El Centro area Highway Patrol commander Capt. Vince Calderon during Wednesday's committee meeting.

"For lack of a better word, the committee acts like a buffer zone between the community and us," Calderon said.

Some people aren't comfortable voicing their requests, concerns or opinions directly to uniformed officers, Calderon said.

A committee member will collect the mail daily and distribute letters to committee members in the same part of the county as the letter's subject.


From there, committee members alert CHP officials of the problem or comment and they address it.

"We'll do whatever is required to correct them (the problems)," Calderon said.

Though letter-writers don't have to include their names, those who wish to be contacted can request it.

"It's a good idea," said committee member Arnold Valencia of the group.

Valencia knows what it's like to want to voice concern over a traffic issue. He said drivers fly past his Brawley home at dangerous speeds. Though that issue would have to be directed to the Brawley Police Department and not the Highway Patrol, the concept is similar.

Cherisse Alford of El Centro understands how the public can have inaccurate ideas of what the Highway Patrol does.

"They're not there just to give tickets," Alford said after telling the committee about her experiences on a Highway Patrol ride-along.

"It was truly just an eye-opener," said Alford, who was filling in for her mother, Cherie Alford, at Wednesday's meeting.

For those who still prefer to keep a distance, the committee will bridge the gap between those people and the Highway Patrol.

Officials pointed out this service is for community traffic problems not in city jurisdictions. The Highway Patrol prefers, however, that citizen complaints against individual officers be made directly to the CHP.

Address your Highway Patrol traffic concerns to: Imperial Valley resident advisory committee, P.O. Box 673, Imperial, CA 92251.

Staff Writer Kelly Grant can be reached at 337-3441.

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