Possible traffic stop near Gorst created lot of confusion

The in basket: Bill Metcalf, who I know from the Winter Club dance organization, sent me the following on Sept. 1, in his inimitably whimsical style.

“SheWhoMustBeObeyed and I were returning home yesterday afternoon after ballroom dancing in Port Orchard,” he wrote. “When we got to everybody’s favourite section of Gorst – under the cliffs – SOME of the traffic ground to a crawl – the rest didn’t, and it got ugly, quickly.

“Why?  Right in the middle of the worst part of Highway 3’s northbound side, where the curve prohibits seeing very far ahead, a law enforcement vehicle had stopped a car on the too-narrow right shoulder and, I imagine, the (officer) was writing out a ticket!  I was too busy trying to dodge the inattentive/rubbernecking drivers to do more than avoid hitting or getting hit.

“May I respectfully request if a (law enforcement officer) needs to cite some driver for some infraction or other, he/she take a couple of minutes to follow the perpetrator to a SAFER location before lighting up the lights and pulling over?

“I suspect that half of the inattentive drivers were quickly attempting to move over a lane – in bumper-to-bumper moving traffic – so as to follow the recent mandate to do so, forgetting that they could merely slow down as they drove past,” Bill said.

The out basket: Not knowing for what department the officer in question works, nor whether it was a citation in progress rather than a stalled car, I asked the state patrol and Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office if their officers have special instructions for places like the four-lane between Gorst and Bremerton. The state forbids parking along there because there’s so little room for error.

“Our officers do not have any special instructions as to where to or not, stop a violator along that particular section of SR-3,” State Patrol spokesman Trooper Russ Winger replied.

“Our troopers are trained to evaluate each traffic stop location based on several factors. These include, but are not limited to, time of day, type of violation, current traffic situation, driving behavior of the violator etc.

“Our troopers do think about and attempt to stop violators in ‘safe’ locations (Stopping vehicles along roadways, especially high speed roads, is inherently dangerous).

“Of course,  this is not always possible depending on the particular circumstance. We often times do ‘trail’ the violator to a more safe location if the situation warrants doing so.

“There are situations where the officer decides that getting the vehicle stopped ASAP is the best situation, such as reckless and erratic driven vehicles and possible DUI violators. As you pointed out, the officer could have been assisting a disabled vehicle or even investigating a collision.

“From experience I can tell you that that section of SR-3 between SR-304 and Gorst, both north- and southbound, is NOT the safest place to stop a vehicle or assist a broken down vehicle or investigate a collision. But our troopers will do what they need to in order to keep the roadways safe and flowing as smooth as possible.

 “As always, we recommend motorists follow the law and at least slow down as they approach police vehicles stopped on the shoulder with emergency lights activated.”

Deputy Scott Wilson, Russ’ counterpart in the sheriff’s office, called Russ’ response “spot-on,” saying there’s nothing he could add except that he checked with 911 and his department’s records and found no record of a county deputy having made a stop for a traffic offense or motorist assist on that stretch that Sunday.

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