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Troopers criticized in Moriah

PORT HENRY An increased state police presence in the town of Moriah has some residents angry. Capt. John Tibbitts, New York State Police Troop B zone commander, attended the March 13 Moriah town board meeting to answer complaints that troopers speed unsafely through the community, issue insignificant traffic tickets and are rude. Moriah Supervisor Tom Scozzafava told Tibbitts he is aware of state police issuing traffic tickets following the Feb. 14 snowstorm to drivers whose license plates were covered by snow or dirt. Im not going to stop a trooper from enforcing vehicle and traffic laws as written, Tibbitts said. But Im sure many more people were stopped than tickets were written; they (troopers) are showing proper discretion. The captain cited 2006 statistics showing state police issued 796 traffic tickets in Moriah, an average of 2.2 a day. I can assure you we have not written too many tickets in Moriah, he said. Trustee Eugene Williams asked Tibbitts about proper police technique in making a traffic stop. He said hes aware of situations when troopers approach drivers and ask accusatory questions. Tibbitts defended the practice of questioning drivers as a method to determine if a person may have been drinking alcohol, but said a trooper should never be rude. We dont teach troopers to be rude, he said. We never have. Trustee Paul Salerno asked the zone commander about troopers moving through the town, particularly the village of Port Henry, at high speed. Salerno pointed out the risk to residents as they go about their business. Tibbitts said troopers are instructed to cut off high speed pursuits and responses in populated areas. Williams also asked about state police trailing drivers. Tibbitts said state police are constantly looking for drivers who cross highway lines or who drive erratically. Following cars is a proven method of spotting drunk drivers, he said. Moriah residents are seeing more state police, Tibbitts said, because there are more to see. The area has several new troopers, he said. Generally there is at last one troop car in Moriah at any time and there can be as many as three, he said. Were here is protect and serve, Tibbitts said. To do that we have to be where the people are, thats Moriah. I would love to put more people down here. Tibbitts stressed state police must obey the law and follow rules. If anyone has a problem with a trooper he asked them to call him directly at 897-2000. If you have an issue with a trooper, I want to know about it, he said. Well judge whether hes violated the rules or regulations. While much of the conversation centered on complaints, Scozzafava thanked the state police for their efforts in Moriah. I know there are a lot of people who are very happy to see the state police in town, he said.

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