PIEDMONT -- The first day of school may be a couple months away, but police are already making plans to ensure that the streets around local campuses are safe.

Police Chief Rikki Goede and the city's Public Safety Committee are planning an outreach program to warn motorists to slow down around schools or face getting a ticket.

Goede told the committee at its July 2 meeting that traffic is the number one concern of Piedmonters and that she has been getting letters and emails about speeding drivers.

Piedmont has many curved and narrow streets, she said, and even speed limits of 45 mph is too fast in some cases.

Piedmont will soon have two full-time officers assigned to the traffic detail and plans are to enforce the laws when necessary, she said.

An outreach program urging motorists to slow down is needed because the department would prefer compliance rather than giving out tickets if it can be avoided, Goede said.

"We just don't want to have a tragedy and people need to slow down," she said. "I don't want people coming in and complaining that they are getting tickets. I would prefer they obey the law so we don't have to give out tickets."

Some committee members suggested having officers attend back to school events to hand out literature, posting notices in local newspapers and on city websites and handing out information at the fall Harvest Festival.

Goede suggested that Piedmont High School students could be enlisted to create traffic safety videos possibly as part of a contest.

In other safety news, Piedmont police hope to have a system of license plate reading cameras in place throughout the community by fall, Goede said.

The cameras would be placed at locations were drivers enter or exit Piedmont and would give investigators additional information on suspects or vehicles when investigating crimes.

Piedmont residents have been edgy since a series of home invasion robberies took place here in January.

Goede said the system cannot reduce crime on its own and is part of her three pronged strategy to protect local citizens. The program includes an adequately staffed police department, cooperation from citizens and "force multiplier" technology like the camera system to aid investigators.

Such technology is not new and similar cameras are now installed on patrol cars in Antioch, San Leandro and the Alameda County Sheriff's Office.

Installation on city streets will begin incrementally in August and September and officials hope the system will be fully functional by October or November, Goede said.

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