Commentary: Recalling when police officers directed traffic in downtown Shelton

Growing up in downtown Shelton resident with lifetime Shelton-Derby neighbor Anne Jemioto, Shelton never had a problem with blockages at four downtown intersections as the Shelton police — with police headquarters located in the center of town — had officers personally directing traffic there.

Now with traffic signal lights, Shelton is poised to issue fines for blocking the intersections.

Anne Jemioto’s late brother Peter Siraco, who rose through the ranks to become Shelton police chief, was one of the officers who would “manually” direct traffic at the intersections to control the flow of traffic — and allow for safe crossing by pedestrians.

The new 'blocking the box' law

Now, without any police officers directing the traffic flow in Shelton Center, the city will employ an initiative to eliminate traffic congestion by prohibiting vehicles from “blocking the box” at intersections on Howe Avenue and Center Street, based on a city ordnance passed after the state legislature enacted an “obstructing intersections” law in 2009.

“The trouble is, people want to beat the red light and end up under it when it turns green in the other direction,” says Alderman Eric McPherson, who proposed the ordinance and represents downtown.

McPherson says traffic can get backed up for blocks.

Alderman Stanley Kudej, who also represents downtown, agreed. “We felt that if we could keep people from blocking the intersections, we could keep traffic moving and make a lot of people happy,” he says.

Sadly, the era of Shelton cops directing downtown traffic is now only a memory.

 Stan Muzyk is a Derby resident.