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Mixed feelings on Durham traffic cops

By Greg Laudani, Staff Writer

The site of officers directing the hectic intersection in front of Hamilton Smith is very familiar to many students. Some officers can be seen every day of the week; others look brand new and never seem to come back. Despite the instruction they offer to traffic and students, students have varying opinions about how officers manage these hectic moments.

Junior Eric Routhier said he thinks there is no need for police help with traffic close to downtown.

“Honestly, I think it’s pointless for them to be there,” Routhier said. “They’re just inefficient.”

Routhier referred to a specific moment when he thought the busy intersection could have been handled more effectively.

“I remember sitting at the intersection on a pretty busy day in September and a cop directing traffic literally kept the traffic at a standstill and only pedestrians were able to cross even though there weren’t a lot of them. And I was sitting there for probably 4-5 minutes, first in line.”

Junior Tyler Cuvellier offered a similar belief. But he also argued that these officers do help prevent accidents.

“I don’t think that the crossing guards are very necessary, although I can see how they could potentially help avoid an accident between a car and a student in the street,” Cuvellier said. “And I understand why the university has them there and how they would rather be safe and take that preemptive step.”

Junior Justin Millette believes the UNH PD should be involved. However, Millette also said that it is sometimes confusing for drivers while officers are trying to sort out the usual mess of traffic and pedestrians in front of Hamilton Smith.

“I think it’s necessary to manage the traffic flow,” Millette said. “Without officers there, traffic would get backed up with the amount of foot traffic going on.”

Millette said the confusion is a result of miscommunication between drivers and police.

“The cops that do them are confusing to the driver of the vehicle,” Millette said. “They point and use all kinds of different hand signals, plus if you do not go as soon as they say, then they scream at you.”

On the other hand, students like junior Erynn Ludemann are all for the department’s efforts. Ludemann said she is appreciative not only for its safety measures, but for its added convenience of driving though campus more quickly.

“I think they do a good job,” Ludemann said. “I know [everyone] is coming from every direction, and it creates a much safer environment, especially during morning rushes. I know for me driving in from The Cottages it’s a big help, too.”

UNH Police Chief Paul Dean said there has been an increased need of help at this intersection in recent years. UNH PD has had officers assigned to direct traffic at this location for several years. In the early ‘90s, the department only staffed the post during campus events.

But in 2000, Dean said the post became so congested with vehicles and students that the department was forced to put officers on duty every day based on class schedule.

“In 2000, the number of pedestrians, traffic and delivery vehicles created a significant delay for the UNH transportation system,” Dean said. “And UPD once again staffed the traffic post to ensure students, faculty and staff had the best possible opportunity to get around campus without significant delay.”

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