More than a dozen pedestrians have been killed in Largo since 2001. There have been three pedestrian fatalities in town in 2012, which is part of an unsettling trend law enforcement is trying to curb with an education and enforcement program.
Largo Police data shows in 2011, there were 358 crashes with injuries in Largo. With 46 pedestrians involved in those accidents and four fatalities, according to police.
Since July 2010 the Largo Police Department and the Florida Department of Transportation have partnered in a pedestrian safety enforcement campaign.
On April 3 the city commission accepted $70,000 through a state grant to continue the program. The city commission is scheduled to give final approval tonight (April 17) to adjust the police budget because of the additional grant monies.
The program monies would be used for pedestrian education and enforcement. The extra funds would allow the program to continue for another nine months.
The program's goal is to "change behavior through enforcement and to reduce the number of senseless deaths and injuries of pedestrians," according to a city report.
The program has been so successful, said Police Chief John Carroll.
"Our goal is not to issue citations. Our goal is to educate the public," Carroll said.
Officers are allowed some discretion in writing tickets. Although the state grant requires the officers to be "highly productive with citations for infractions being the preferred enforcement action," according to a city report.
For the education portion of the campaign, the police would focus on the schools.
"The focus (of the education) has been around the schools. If we can change behavior when they are younger, it might be a life long change," Carroll said.
The campaign also covers enforcement with a focus on several intersections along Missouri Avenue, East Bay Drive and Ulmerton Road.
Mid-block crossings are the problem 60 percent of the time, which statistically has been a contributing factor to a lot of fatal accidents, said Police Sgt. George Edmiston.
"I say keep (the campaign) up and keep doing it. As someone who drives down Ulmerton all the time because of living off of it," said Commissioner Michael Smith.
"(I see) people with the construction going on, trying to weave through there. (They think) they're invisible, especially the young ones. I think this is something we need to do," Smith said.