Should traffic cops pay be based on tickets?

From CNN: 

It's a theory many drivers have held since their first speeding ticket, that citations are somehow connected to a special perk for the officer writing it.

Now, a memo among Atlanta police officers has reignited such suspicions.

"The mayor has designated traffic court and ticket revenue for future pay increases," Atlanta Police Union President Ken Allen wrote this month.

Some residents scoffed at the idea.

"I'm probably going to switch from sales and join the police force in that case, if that's the way it's working," one resident, Ken Miller,told CNN affiliate WSB-TV. (more)

While some fear that tying pay to ticket-writing productivity, some believe there are very good reasons for doing so:

Tucson Police Chief Roberto Villasenor requires his officers to make an average of at least one traffic stop a day. He said many important arrests stem from traffic stops.

"That's where we get most of our narcotic arrests. We get a lot of warrants we've been able to serve," Villasenor told CNN affiliate KGUN. "There's benefit from traffic (stops) that have been proven in city after city. I'm just saying we can't forget that's part of our job." (same source as above)

I think most people drive over the speed limit a good deal of the time, so there's probably little need for the police to fabricate false speeding tickets and no doubt it has some effect, however small, on the speed at which people drive. It also leads to other arrests for more serious crimes.

So, why not?

Views: 265

Tags: police, speed, speeding, tickets, traps

Comment by Gallup's Mirror on June 27, 2013 at 3:18pm

Everywhere I go, I see motorists speeding, rolling through stop signs, popping red lights, turning without signaling, tailgating, driving in the passing lane, driving on the shoulder, cutting off other drivers, road raging from lane to lane, failing to stop for pedestrians in crosswalks, overtaking too closely, texting (or reading newspapers) at the wheel, speeding up when another driver tries to overtake, and doing any number of dangerous and illegal things. It's virtually non-stop and virtually everywhere.

Aggressive or inattentive driving is a contributing factor to most motor vehicle crashes, and motor vehicle crashes are one of leading causes of injury and death in the United States. Motorists crashed 3.5 million times in 2009 alone, causing 2.251 million casualties, including 33,808 deaths, and over $150.5 billion in property damage (excluding the billions lost to medical care, disability, and labor productivity).

I understand traffic law enforcement sometimes leads to the capture of wanted criminals. But what should be the primary purpose? I think it should be to reduce the suffering, destruction and death associated with rampant irresponsible motoring, which causes the equivalent body count of ten 911 attacks every year.

What cops are paid should have nothing to do with that. I think it should be the fines slapped down for traffic offenses. Make the fines consummate with the associated risk of death and destruction.

Take speeding for example. First Pullover: Warning. First offence: $500 fine. Second offence: $1000 fine. Third offence: $2,000 fine. Double it every time. Once it hits $16,000: seize the car. On $32,000 loss of license. If they're driving a car without a license or a car that belongs to someone else: 30 days in jail the first time, 60 days the second time, 120 days the third time, and so on.

Do that and watch how fast people will slow down, obey red lights, stop tailgating, and so on. Watch how fast the casualty numbers will plummet.

Comment by Gregg R Thomas on June 28, 2013 at 12:06am

@Gallup's Mirror:

Take speeding for example. First Pullover: Warning. First offense: $500 fine. Second offense: $1000 fine. Third offense: $2,000 fine. Double it every time. Once it hits $16,000: seize the car. On $32,000 loss of license. If they're driving a car without a license or a car that belongs to someone else: 30 days in jail the first time, 60 days the second time, 120 days the third time, and so on.

Will never work.

Comment by Strega on June 28, 2013 at 12:32am

I suppose a public lashing is out of the question then.  Would never work either?

Comment by H3xx on June 28, 2013 at 12:47am

Wouldn't a better idea be to create and addon device that made it so that vehicles could drive themselves, without violating any traffic laws? This is probably too much to ask for, but basing police pay on tickets would make sure that cops are doing their job, and if there were an effective, and anonymous way to report overreactions and abuse of power, we could ensure that they do their job properly. It would also lift some burden off of average taxpayer's shoulders. The main problem with law enforcement at the moment, is that there is no counter system to keep it in check, which is why the NSA can spy on you, and how Policemen can go so long abusing their power before IA steps in and stops it. Citizens should have the power to counter their behavior without interfering in their actual job.

Comment by H3xx on June 28, 2013 at 12:51am

@Gallup's Mirror:

Cops are some of the worst traffic violators I've ever seen. At least where I live, they drive on average around 30 miles over the speed limit, tailgate, I often see them run the less busy intersections without even slowing down. And there's not an effective way for citizens to put a stop to it.

Comment by SteveInCO on June 28, 2013 at 9:11am

Take speeding for example. First Pullover: Warning. First offence: $500 fine. Second offence: $1000 fine. Third offence: $2,000 fine. Double it every time. Once it hits $16,000: seize the car. On $32,000 loss of license. If they're driving a car without a license or a car that belongs to someone else: 30 days in jail the first time, 60 days the second time, 120 days the third time, and so on.

Maybe everyone speeds because the goddamn limits are set too low and everyone knows it.  Of course that makes it easier for cops to find speeders, since everyone is made into a criminal by the system.  Do you really want such harsh penalties for arbitrarily imposed laws? 

You sound an awful lot like the "law and order" types you no doubt abhor here.  One joint?  Six months in jail!  Two joints....?  THAT will stop people from doing drugs!

I'll agree with you about running stops etc., with the caveat that THAT happens, at least around here, because we frequently see lights timed so that traffic backs up a mile on a major highway or arterial because they get only 30 seconds of green while the cross street enjoys a minute of utterly traffic free green.  So although the law itself is not arbitrary and has good rationale, in combination with downright stupid decisions on how to time lights, its effect is to greatly increase frustration.  To the point where people come up with conspiracy theories (they are hoping to make more money writing serious tickets, they are hoping people will burn more gas idling in traffic, etc.) on why things are so dumb.

You go on to mention driving in the passing lane, and I would wager that is the biggest single cause of road rage that isn't direct provocation.  I will regularly see somebody "parked" in the left lane of I-25 with a line of 20 cars waiting for him to get the fuck out of the way.  It's taking him five minutes to pass a group of three cars in the right lane.  Yet this is the one rule you never see enforced.

Comment by Gallup's Mirror on June 28, 2013 at 9:22am

Cops are some of the worst traffic violators I've ever seen. At least where I live, they drive on average around 30 miles over the speed limit, tailgate, I often see them run the less busy intersections without even slowing down. And there's not an effective way for citizens to put a stop to it.

I see this all the time too. Power corrupts. 

Comment by Unseen on June 28, 2013 at 9:48am

Playing devil's advocate, since we know from personal experience that most people drive at least a little over the limit most of the time, asking officers to issue some minimum number of traffic tickets will help minimize their time at Duncan Donuts or Starbucks. When I lived in Portland, there was a Starbucks at a major corner in a part of town with lots of high end condos. There would be anywhere from 2 to 5 officers in there at a table or a couple of tables almost all the time. I wondered why since it didn't strike me as a high crime area. A high value area, perhaps, but not high crime. 

Anyway, they were not out there solving crimes or stopping speeders. Perhaps a ticket-writing requirement with reasonable and not excessively-high goals would have resulted in a bit more policing and fewer kaffee klatsches. 

Comment by Strega on June 28, 2013 at 10:05am

In Germany, there are no speed limits on the motorways (autobahns) and they seem to be able to avoid crashing.  There are probably sub-rules, such as no under-21's on the motorways, but other than that, their system appears to work for them.

In the UK, there are speed cameras on motorways and on major roads.  These work by triggering a camera flash if you pass between two points faster than would be feasible if you are only overtaking legally.  It is automated, to such a degree that the penalty notices are issued automatically, although you do have the right of appeal.  The camera system can also be loaded with information regarding stolen vehicles to enable police to intervene when one is spotted.

The 70mph maximum speed limit is probably outdated now, as cars have become more sturdy and powerful.  Even so, and assuming it is still a valid restriction, why are cars built to do speeds of 130mph or more if that's never an option?  Why can the cars not be fitted with a 'damper' so that if the car exceeds the limit for longer than reasonable, the car automatically cuts back down to 70mph?

An automated system may enable some of those traffic cops to retire, or spend their time doing more practical activity.

Comment by Gallup's Mirror on June 28, 2013 at 10:22am

Maybe everyone speeds because the goddamn limits are set too low and everyone knows it.  Of course that makes it easier for cops to find speeders, since everyone is made into a criminal by the system.  Do you really want such harsh penalties for arbitrarily imposed laws? 

It's not arbitrary, Steve. The odds of a cyclist or pedestrian surviving a collision with a motor vehicle drops dramatically once the motor vehicle reaches 30 miles per hour. A driver who hits you at 40 mph is 3.5 times more likely to kill you than a driver who strikes you at 30 mph. The mortality rates climb steeply from there. Remember that the next time you're crossing the street.

You sound an awful lot like the "law and order" types you no doubt abhor here.  One joint?  Six months in jail!  Two joints....?  THAT will stop people from doing drugs!

There is no reasonable comparison between marijuana use and motoring. The former is harmless and should be decriminalized. Nobody dies from smoking pot and the smokers effect their own bodies. Growing pot is easy. Finding pot on people is hard to do without violating rights. I don't abhor law, but I do abhor religious law or discriminatory enforcement of the law, and both applies to marijuana criminalization.

In contrast there are millions of casualties including tens of thousands of fatalities from unsafe motoring every year. Unsafe motorists endanger themselves, their passengers, and everyone and everything around their vehicles. It's also easy for law enforcement to spot unsafe motorists without illegal or discriminatory searches: they're the ones barrelling down the streets.

They'd be even easier to spot with the stiff penalties for speeding: most people would slow down. Only the most aggressive, stupid, and dangerous drivers would continue to take their chances. They'd stand out. And they'd be off the roads soon enough.

You go on to mention driving in the passing lane, and I would wager that is the biggest single cause of road rage that isn't direct provocation.  I will regularly see somebody "parked" in the left lane of I-25 with a line of 20 cars waiting for him to get the fuck out of the way.  It's taking him five minutes to pass a group of three cars in the right lane.  Yet this is the one rule you never see enforced.

Think about it. If tough penalties make intentional speeding and red light running all but unheard of, won't police have more time to enforce other (perhaps unintentional**) infractions? If the penalty for improper lane usage is a warning and then $500 (for starters): won't more police see the law as worth being enforced? How many drivers will dare get on the road and drive without knowing the traffic laws?

Safer driving. Better driving. Fewer casualties and deaths. How do you see this not working?

**I'm convinced this is why you see people driving 50 in the left lane with traffic streaming by them on the right: they don't know the left lane is for passing and slower traffic must keep right.

[Side note: I also think the situation you describe is often not the fault of the driver in the left lane. How many times do you start to overtake a slower driver, only to have that driver suddenly accelerate and match speed with you? (This is against the law, by the way.) This leaves you to either accelerate even more, or reduce speed and drop back in behind that person (which is dangerous if there is traffic backed up behind you). The cause of the two lanes of blockage can be the fault of the driver in the right lane as much as the driver in the left lane.]

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