Traffic tickets issued in Missouri and Boone County down in 2008

Monday, February 2, 2009 | 12:38 a.m. CST; updated 11:44 a.m. CST, Thursday, February 19, 2009

COLUMBIA — The number of traffic violations in the state and Boone County decreased last year.

According to the Missouri State Highway Patrol, speeding violations in 2008 were down 8.7 percent, from 113,273 in 2007 to 103,458. 

In Boone County, the number of speeding tickets dropped 14.5 percent, from 11,334 tickets in 2007 to 9,687, according to the municipal court clerk.  

Officials cited a number of reasons for the decline, including open positions within police traffic units, high gas prices last summer and possibly, more careful drivers.

“Our patrol is not at full strength,” said Capt. Zim Schwartze, traffic commander for Columbia Police Department.  “We have had difficulty staffing the traffic unit, which is a specialty unit that supports the patrol.

"Our motorcycle officers’ primary job is to write traffic tickets, and we have had one motorcycle officer position vacant since November.”

Vacancies such as these have led to the decrease in tickets, she said. 

In 2008, the Columbia Police Department reported an increase in calls for service, making officers busier overall with less time to issue traffic violations, she said.

“Officers don’t have the same luxury or time to make traffic stops that they’ve had in the past few years,” Schwartze said.  

Sgt. Paul Reinsch, Troop F public information and education officer for the Highway Patrol, said officers also saw that traffic was down last summer when gas prices were substantially higher.   

“Officers also noticed people were slowing down,” Reinsch said. “Gas prices could very well have something to do with it.”

Schwartze said people might be making a conscious effort to drive cautiously to prevent a violation and fine.  

“Whatever works to slow people down, we are happy with,” Schwartze said.  “Hit them in the pocketbook.”

Capt. Brian Weimer with the MU Police Department agreed that a number of variables could cause a decline in tickets.  

“We are as committed toward traffic violations now as we were three years ago,” Weimer said.  “We are always looking to keep the area safe.”




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Ray Shapiro February 2, 2009 | 1:32 a.m.

Maybe quotas are down or it's just good P.R. Either way if each speeding ticket generated $100 that would mean 10 million for the state highway patrol and one million for Boone County,
If officers were just nice enough to remind us to slow down, those numbers would be even lower.

Do Traffic Ticket Quotas Really Exist?
Traffic tickets generate millions every year for states and local municipalities. The sudden appearance of speed traps and weekend ‘wolf packs’ have many drivers believing the law enforcement is merely out in force to meet traffic ticket quotas and not to protect the public. Traffic ticket quotas are explicitly prohibited by most jurisdictions. But is this really true?

Though ticket quotas are continuously denied to exist by police chiefs and uniformed officers around the country, evidence suggests there is an unspoken directive in some police stations and state trooper offices.

Florida is not the only state where ticket quotas are a reality, and states like Missouri and Pennsylvania have experienced similar revelations. Pennsylvania State Police documents show that not only is there a system of monetary reward and punishment for state troopers based upon numeric ticket goals, there is a clear effort to prevent anyone from ever speaking about it.

In 2002, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette uncovered the creative methods that top police officials developed to avoid the letter of the law. The specific number of tickets that troopers must now meet is known as the "station average." Each trooper must log the number of traffic stops and citations and if a trooper for any reason issues fewer tickets than his colleagues -- the station average -- he will be disciplined.

And, according to at least five police officers in Monroe, Louisiana have been disciplined for not writing a sufficient number of traffic tickets. These officers were told they could not work a second job while off-duty to help make ends meet. Because this punishment is outside of the normal disciplinary process, the officers have no right to appeal the decision.

While traffic ticket quotas are not legally mandated, there is enough evidence to suggest they do exist in some law enforcement agencies.

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr February 2, 2009 | 3:34 a.m.

>>> “Our patrol is not at full strength,” said Capt. Zim Schwartze, traffic commander for Columbia Police Department. “We have had difficulty staffing the traffic unit, which is a specialty unit that supports the patrol.

"Our motorcycle officers’ primary job is to write traffic tickets, and we have had one motorcycle officer position vacant since November.”

Vacancies such as these have led to the decrease in tickets, she said. <<<

The lack of street patrol officers is obviously a result of citizens,our City Mayor and City manager more in favor of pushing for parks and more bike trails than police patrolmen in and for this city.

Great job citizens give yourselves a big pat on each others backs.

(Report Comment)
John Schultz February 2, 2009 | 10:04 a.m.

Chuck, how do you know that? Maybe CPD is having problems finding an officer that is qualified to be a motorcycle copy or some other reason, such as a lack of qualified applicants to the overall force. Have you asked Zim?

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro February 2, 2009 | 10:46 a.m.

One motorcycle cop spot opening at the end of last year is no big deal.
Maybe another reason for not catching more "speeders" is better communication betwen truckers and an increase and improvement in radar detectors.
I also want to thank the officers who are not hiding from plain sight and give us the chance to slow down and show our respect.
(Sometimes, keeping up with traffic contributes to additional speeders.)

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr February 2, 2009 | 12:00 p.m.

John Schultz at last year's FY2009 Budget Hearings CPD was even asked to cut back on the funding they required to do things they wanted to do but parks and bike trails and their various needs were all kept going and built weren't they?

Sure that money for those things was already there through a vote or grant but it shows you how obviously screwed up this city's priorities are.

Obviously our Mayor is not as concerned about police protection than he is bike trails. Same with our City Manager more concerned about parks than health and educational needs.

(Report Comment)
John Schultz February 2, 2009 | 2:27 p.m.

What specifically was CPD asked to cut back on? I seem to remember something along those lines, but not the details.

As for education, the city should not be involved with that, the school district handles that sector.

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr February 2, 2009 | 2:40 p.m.

Vehicles,uniforms,personnel to name a few.

Oh so you do not back community crime intervention educational seminars through the police department going into our lower grade schools to reach our at risk youth when they are young and try to teach them how bad crime is for and in their city?

So you are also against community education as well concerning health care needs too?

It is obvious by the looks of our city and society that parents and schools have failed in this department of education so that leaves city government to try and help pick up the slack in this area.

Somebody has to do it because local politicians,schools and parents have obviously failed. Just look at all of those needs in our city but you sure do not see this city lacking in bike trails and parks do you?

(Report Comment)
John Schultz February 2, 2009 | 3:05 p.m.

Well it wasn't clear what type of "education" you were talking about in your previous message.

(Report Comment)

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