Dallas police writing fewer tickets

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by REBECCA LOPEZ

Bio | Email | Follow: @rlopezwfaa

WFAA

Posted on February 27, 2012 at 11:13 PM

Updated Monday, Feb 27 at 11:27 PM

DALLAS — The City of Dallas is losing out on millions of dollars.

The reason? Dallas police handed out 56,000 fewer citations over the last two fiscal years.

Some officers tell News 8 they are doing it in protest, while others blame a new focus on property crimes.

"The purpose of traffic enforcement is to improve traffic safety, not to raise revenue," said Dallas police Chief David Brown in a statement to News 8. "We don't believe the citizens of Dallas want its police department writing citations to raise revenue."

Larry McCoy lives just off Greenville Avenue. He watches speeders zip through his neighborhood on a daily basis.

"On these side streets, people tend to light them up," he said.

As the block captain of his homeowners' group, McCoy said it can be a dangerous situation. "We have all these bars up the street, so you know, drinking and speed," he said. "It kind of goes together."

DPD sources told News 8 they get more than 100 complaints a month about speeders, but can't do much about it. Two-thirds of the traffic division has been cut or pulled to do special assignments.

In the last five years, the number of tickets has dropped significantly.

  • 2007: 479,000 tickets
  • 2008: 412,400 tickets
  • 2009: 369,675 tickets
  • 2010: 351,587 tickets
  • 2011: 294,737 tickets

The decline could mean millions for the city.

"The police department does not view citations as a revenue producer," said Assistant Chief Tom Lawrence. "That's not what they are for. That's not what we believe we enforce traffic laws for. The intention is to correct criminal behavior by our drivers and to reduce accidents."

The Dallas Police Department told us that while traffic citations are down for 2011, the number of people pulled over is up 10 percent, adding that traffic fatalities also dropped last year.

"There are significant savings to the public when traffic safety is improved, to include fewer insurance claims, fewer hospital stays, less time from work of injured persons, and less officer time on accident scenes," Chief Brown said in his statement.

"We're asking them to make those traffic stops to correct behavior," Lawrence added. "It may take a citation or it may be just a warning, but that's why I feel traffic stops are more important than citations."

The department says part of the reason for the drop in 2011 is that the federal government cut a grant, taking away hundreds of thousands of dollars in overtime for traffic enforcement. But sources tell News 8 there have been 21 traffic deaths already this year — a significant increase from last year at this time.

E-mail rlopez@wfaa.com

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