FREE e-Newsletter
Important News - Hot Topics
Get them Now!
Doug  Wyllie

Doug Wyllie

Doug Wyllie has authored more than 1,000 articles and tactical tips aimed at ensuring that police officers are safer and more successful on the streets. Doug is a Western Publishing Association “Maggie Award” winner for Best Regularly Featured Digital Edition Column. He is a member of International Law Enforcement Educators and Trainers Association (ILEETA), an Associate Member of the California Peace Officers’ Association (CPOA), and a member of the Public Safety Writers Association (PSWA).

William Harvey

William Harvey

William "Bill" Harvey is currently serving as chief of police in south central Pennsylvania. He retired from the Savannah (Ga.) Police Department where he worked assignments in training, patrol, and CID. Harvey has more than 25 years of experience working with recruits, rookies, and FTOs.

Torrance (Calif.) PD's Commercial Enforcement Unit

Load-hauling violators get education with their citations in this SoCal suburb.

June 21, 2013  |  by Jack Chavdarian

Officer Craig Durling checks the license status of a commercial driver. Photo courtesy of TPD.
Officer Craig Durling checks the license status of a commercial driver. Photo courtesy of TPD.
Editor's note: This special unit profile is the latest in a series of Web-exclusive career profiles on Read more profiles here.

The commercial enforcement officers of the Torrance (Calif.) Police Department rarely issue citations to interstate truckers in this Los Angeles suburb. They're more likely to encounter violators operating mid-sized commercial vehicles with violations such as a pile of unsecured palettes, a 20-foot palm tree clipping electrical line, and a driver using a bungee cord for a seatbelt.

For Craig Durling, the lead officer of the unit, enforcing violations on commercial vehicles comes with a responsibility to educate violators on what they're doing wrong to prevent repeat violations and keep other motorists safe. Giving out a citation just to give out a citation, or for a citation's revenue, is never the goal.

"I never want to send a violator away without him or her having an understanding of what the violation was," Durling says.

"I've never let the fines drive me. I'm looking to make my streets safer by helping commercial vehicle drivers and owners do their job as safe as possible," he adds.

Durling submits his citations to the court and leaves the fines to them. None of the revenue from traffic citations, commercial or otherwise, goes directly to the Torrance PD. Only a small portion of the revenue goes into the city's fund, and the rest goes to the state.

The two-officer unit is primarily responsible for identifying and focusing enforcement on problem locations and situations involving commercial vehicles. Durling says the unit is open to any officer who has graduated from his or her probationary period. An interest in traffic enforcement is a must, and a certification course from the California Highway Patrol must be taken. He says the training never ends since regulations are always changing. Any officer interested in joining the unit must be open to continual learning.

The job isn't always a clean one, Durling says, and officers who want to be in the unit can't be afraid of getting their hands or uniforms dirty.

"Crawling under a leaking garbage truck in the middle of August to inspect brake-system components may not be glamorous, but it's absolutely necessary to do the job," Durling says.

Officer Durling inspects the condition of a 53-foot cargo tractor-trailer's air-brake tubing. Photo courtesy of TPD.
Officer Durling inspects the condition of a 53-foot cargo tractor-trailer's air-brake tubing. Photo courtesy of TPD.
Visibility is another important part of what the unit does in its territory. Torrance's commercial enforcement officers must remain in the consciousness of passing drivers.

"We make our presence known," Durling says. "The knowledge that we're out there, since most cities don't have full-time commercial enforcement units, is one of the most effective tools since it can prevent problems before they occur."

The unit's officers must carry a set of tools that may be unfamiliar to most patrol officers, including portable truck scales and measuring poles.  However, the unit's most effective tool may be the officers' knowledge of applicable codes and regulations.

"We make sure we get it right," Durling says.

The unit is at its busiest during commuting hours on weekdays. During those hours, most drivers are eager to get home for the day and sometimes take dangerous shortcuts. Durling adds that trucks transporting construction debris in one load should transport it in two or three loads to avoid countless violations. Those truckers put the safety of other motorists at risk.

The unit averages about 1,500 citations a year, including commercial and passenger vehicles, as well as misdemeanor arrests.

The unit sees a wide range of violations that often stem from unsecured heavy loads, spilled cargo or failure to comply with one of the numerous regulations for hauling cargo spelled out in the California Vehicle Code.

An overweight violation is confirmed as Officer Durling directs a bobtail truck onto his portable truck scale. Photo courtesy of TPD.
An overweight violation is confirmed as Officer Durling directs a bobtail truck onto his portable truck scale. Photo courtesy of TPD.
Because they work outdoors most of the time, Torrance PD commercial enforcement officers must be prepared for the possible dangerous effects of the elements. 

"Many violations, such as overweight conditions, or securement violations, can become exponentially more dangerous when the roadway is wet," Durling says.

He adds that open loads become heavier when they get wet and can affect stopping distancing and braking efficiency. The environment can be different day to day, so officers have to be ready for the effects of the weather on drivers.

 "I stopped a pickup truck a while back that was transporting a tree," Durling says. "The problem was that the tree was 20 feet tall, and it was standing up in the bed of the truck, and clipping power lines."

Whatever situation the work day may hold for the unit, when they get on the field they have each other's backs and are ready to take on whatever the day brings.

"Commercial enforcement officers rely heavily on each other," Durling says. "We're a tightly knit group and each officer has areas in which he or she may have a better working knowledge or expertise than another." 

Jack Chavdarian is an editorial assistant for POLICE Magazine.


PHOTOS: Commercial Enforcement Violations

Comments (1)

Displaying 1 - 1 of 1

Capt. Crunch @ 6/25/2013 5:46 PM

Tha California Highway Patrol does this for free so why should Torrance P.D. waste manpower and tax payer money. The State gets most of the revenue anyway.

Join the Discussion

POLICE Magazine does not tolerate comments that include profanity, personal attacks or antisocial behavior (such as "spamming" or "trolling"). This and other inappropriate content or material will be removed. We reserve the right to block any user who violates this, including removing all content posted by that user.

Other Recent Blog Posts

Speaking on the Unspeakable: Ending the Pandemic of Police Officer Suicide
I've talked with officers who have lost a colleague to suicide—as well as many widows of...
Love and Hate: Some Observations about the Pittsburgh Synagogue Attack
It's somewhat disappointing that it takes an act of evil for the pure good in people to...

Police Magazine