Hoover police preparing for heavy Black Friday traffic

Published 9:55 am Monday, November 23, 2009

Black Friday this year could be a perfect storm of traffic problems in Hoover, said Hoover Police Capt. Jim Coker.

Black Friday, Nov. 27, is already one of the biggest shopping days of the year. The Auburn-Alabama game will be held that day as well.

Traffic on U.S. 280 could be especially bad, as traffic heading towards Auburn would likely take that route.

Coker said Hoover police don’t yet know how bad the traffic will be.

“This is one of those things that we just don’t know yet,” he said. “Black Friday tends to have more people on the road with a lot of people shopping. We know with the Alabama-Auburn game, that might take people off the road for a short period of time, but then they’ll be back on the road.”

Traffic could begin getting worse Wednesday with people taking off work and schools possibly being out, Coker said.

He said when shopping, be sure to look for less-used entrances.

“When you go shopping, try to stay away from the major entrances,” he said. “People are creatures of habit. They always go in the first entrance. Look for that second entrance.”

Coker said his officers are focused on keeping traffic moving and keeping shopping areas safe by implementing a “highly visible” plan.

“We are planning on having extra officers working both the morning shift and the evening shift (Friday, Saturday and Sunday),” he said. “We want people to feel safe, and we also want to deter anybody. If you’re driving around Hoover, around 280 or on Valleydale, you’ll be able to see a Hoover police officer.”

Officers would shift back and forth between shopping areas and traffic posts based on need.

“What we do is if traffic is fine, they go and spend time at the shopping centers,” he said. “If traffic starts getting heavy, then they get called back to the traffic posts. That’s part of our ‘highly visible’ plan.”

Coker said crime could increase around Thanksgiving, especially in shopping areas and with people traveling.

“That’s one reason why we decided to do this highly visible plan. You never know what you deter. We want to deter everything we can,” he said. “Typically what’ll happen, shoplifting cases will rise. That’s usually where the major rise occurs.”

Coker said his No. 1 tip for shopping safety is to keep purchases and valuables out of sight.

“This is something we see not only during the holiday season but also year round. Don’t leave things visibly in your car,” he said. “Don’t leave presents visible, don’t leave your GPS visible, don’t leave your laptop visible. You’re trying to make yourself as unattractive as you possibly can to someone who may have criminal intentions.”

He also said residents should be good neighbors by immediately calling local law enforcement to report any kind of suspicious activity in residential areas.