Dallas municipal court reductions come as fewer officers writing traffic citations

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by BYRON HARRIS

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WFAA

Posted on March 25, 2014 at 10:38 PM

DALLAS -- In 2006-07, Dallas police wrote 495,007 traffic tickets.

In 2012-13, they wrote just 211,843, nearly 60 percent fewer.

The city has been wrestling to improve its disposition of traffic violations for years. It cranked up a new court case management system last fall to speed up the processing of traffic tickets.

So far, the front end is successful; the back end, not so much.

The city said drivers who come to city hall will be served in ten minutes, so they can pay their violation or set a court date to promptly protest it.

However, as News 8 reported last week, the city still has about 25,000 unprocessed traffic arrest warrants, which have yet to be signed by judges so they can move further in the system.

"It's very critical," said assistant city manager Joey Zapata.

Zapata said the warrant backlog should be resolved in a few weeks. Last week, chief administrative municipal Judge Daniel Solis said it would take a few months.

But Zapata revealed another way the city is eliminating kinks in the system.

"There are fewer officers writing traffic citations, and the ones that do don't write them in the numbers they used to," he said.

So are drivers safer than they were eight years ago?

"I don't know I would say that," Zapata replied.

Nonetheless, Zapata said the city is reducing staff in municipal court because there are fewer tickets being issued.

"We're scaling our operations to the number of citations being written," he said.

He quoted Dallas Police Chief David Brown as saying the goal of traffic enforcement is to improve traffic safety. If writing fewer tickets means traffic safety has been achieved, the city has accomplished its goal.

E-mail bharris@wfaa.com

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