- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 27, 2014

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Kansas City police are warning drivers that officers are increasing traffic enforcement, and the number of tickets has increased dramatically in recent months.

Officers wrote more than 6,000 speeding tickets in April, which doubled the number of tickets issued in April 2013, and tickets for all traffic violations increased nearly 50 percent, The Kansas City Star reported (https://bit.ly/1kk2yUW ). The changes come just months after courts stopped the city’s red-light camera program, which generated more than 31,000 tickets annually.

Those numbers don’t count tickets written by a new traffic enforcement squad of 10 police officers that began operating May 19. That squad is expected to increase the traffic unit’s productivity by 25 percent, said Maj. Jim Pruetting, who oversees the department’s traffic division.

The increase in the number of tickets began in March and took off in April, after the department began urging its more than 900 patrol officers to be more productive by citing at least one moving violation each day. The department’s 50 traffic enforcement officers also were excluded from a requirement that they spend 20 percent of their time in areas of the city considered violent crime hotspots.

Some critics questioned the timing of the changes.

“If it was about public safety, I could support that, but if it’s trying to make up the lost revenue, then I think there are better ways to do that,” said Matt Zender of Leawood, who got a $140 speeding ticket while driving through Kansas City in April.

City officials said officers have been writing a low number of tickets for years, although they acknowledge the city’s revenue took a hit when the red-light camera program ended.

“The enforcement needs to be done for traffic safety, but there has to be sufficient revenue in the general fund to pay for services expected by residents, which includes police but also public works, fire, municipal courts, animal control, et cetera,” said Maj. Eric Winebrenner, the Police Department’s liaison to the city manager’s office.

Speeding was the most cited violation so far this year, followed by failure to maintain insurance and driver’s license violations.

Although some residents may be skeptical, police spokesman Capt. Tye Grant said he didn’t any officer who would write a ticket just to generate revenue.

“A byproduct of more officers doing this enforcement may be an increase in tickets, which may increase revenue, but that’s not the reason for doing it,” he said.


Information from: The Kansas City Star, https://www.kcstar.com

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