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Sylva foot cop takes to patrol car to put the brakes on speeders

Sylva speeders beware: at downtown business owners’ requests, Sylva is tapping the full array of skills that newly hired downtown foot-patrol officer J.P. Gallardo brings to the job. As of last week, the retired state Highway Patrol trooper of 30 years is now spending a portion of his 20-hour work week nabbing speeders who whip about town.

And no, he’s not doing it on foot, as one town wag quipped — Gallardo, when functioning as a traffic cop, patrols in a regular Sylva police car with a real siren and standard blue lights that show up in that usual heartbreaking way in speeders’ rearview mirrors.

“The main enforcement is on Back Street,” said Gallardo, though in the early mornings he monitors Main Street, too. This time of day, after lunch on a workday when the street is more crowded, the problem isn’t noticeably an issue on Main Street.

“That’s because if the first one is moving at 20 miles per hour, they are all running 20 miles per hour,” the officer said in explanation.

But on Back Street, more properly known as Mill Street? Now that’s a problem any time of the day or night, according to Sylva Glass and Mirror owner Tom Keller. He recently beseeched town aldermen to work at slowing traffic down to the mandated 20 miles per hour.

“They’re going 60 through there sometimes,” he said.

In addition to nabbing speeders, citing illegal parking by motorists and walking the streets of Sylva with the aim of being generally present and noticeable, Gallardo also monitors the parking lots at Walmart, Lowe’s and similar places within the town’s limits.

Some of the aldermen are so happy with the results they want to increase Gallardo’s hours to 30 a week, Police Chief Davis Woodard said.

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