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‘You can’t have stage fright’ at big events, says Anaheim PD’s traffic guru

By Joe Vargas

Lt. Kelly Jung refers to Paul Munoz as the “guru” of traffic control. And she’s probably right. You see, for the past 37 years Paul has been directing traffic in the City of Anaheim. On any given day he supervises a crew of about 30 event traffic controllers who are working seven days a week and 365 days a year.

With over 700 events every year it’s no wonder he is busy. Between Anaheim Stadium, Honda Center, Anaheim Convention Center and Disneyland you can only imagine the amount of traffic that comes through the city everyday.
Paul is not only the supervisor of traffic control he is the “go to” person in Anaheim for every event. Paul has been an integral part of the planning for events such as the 2002 World Series, Stanley Cup Playoff games and Disney running events. From the earliest planning stages Paul is at the table providing input as only he can. You can learn a lot after 37 years.

The Right Stuff

Paul recently shared what it takes to be a traffic controller in Anaheim. “It takes the ability to multitask and you can’t have stage fright,” he said.
Why stage fright?

“Because you are literally conducting a performance in front of hundreds of motorists all whom are looking to you for direction. That can be intimidating,” he said.

It takes courage to stand out in the middle of an intersection where impatient and distracted drivers can make it dangerous at times. Having your head on a swivel and constantly scanning are a necessary part of the job. Paul adds, “You also need the patience to deal with a frustrated and unappreciative public at times. “

College Students to Moms and Dads

The traffic controllers run the gamut from college-age students to older adults looking for part time work. “We like to have a good mix of people out there on the streets,” Paul says.Big events

There’s a lot of camaraderie in the unit. Paul refers to it as “battlefield friendships.” When you spend so much time together you can’t help but get close to the people you work with. “It is a great part-time job for anyone.”

What does it take to get hired? “You take a written exercise, oral interview, background investigation and medical exam”, Paul says. After that we provide all the training you’ll need.

Most memorable event

“I would have to say Game 7 of the 2002 World Series has been the most memorable. After the game we had almost as many people trying to get to the stadium as trying to leave,” he said. They were also dealing with spontaneous street celebrations and responding police units trying to get through traffic. It made for quite a night.

“But the best part was the Angels won,” Paul added.

It can get tough

“Our most challenging days are those where every venue has events going on at the same time. Imagine the Stadium, Honda Center, Convention Center and Disney all at close to maximum capacity on the same day,” he said.

That’s when it’s most important to work collaboratively with the venue sites to get people to their destinations.

What advice would you give people attending events in Anaheim? “Give yourself plenty of time, carpool if you can and monitor the Anaheim Police Department Facebook and Twitter accounts. If there are any serious traffic problems that’s the first place you’ll see them posted,” he said.Picture 180

If you are interested in applying for Traffic Control positions in Anaheim click here.

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