Monday, May 9, 2011

No, really, the city isn't interested in money from traffic fines

Posted By on Mon, May 9, 2011 at 3:44 PM

Springs Police Chief Richard Myers has issued a report to try to dispel many residents' notion that motorcycle cops are out to make a buck for the city by stopping and citing as many motorists as they can.

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In a report, which he also discussed Monday in a briefing at City Council's informal meeting, Myers says the idea has never been to generate dough for a department suffering cutbacks due to a decline in tax money.

The report says:

Police activity is not, and never should, be premised on the goal of generating revenue. In American society, the police are granted unprecedented powers within the social contract, and in return, are expected to use those powers sparingly, fairly, with equal access to all. Enforcement activity for the sole purpose of generating revenue is contrary to the social contract, and outside the ethics of modern policing.

Included in the report is a history of the motorcycle unit, which was started in1987.

In 1987, the modern Motor Unit was formed with funding received through a Federal grant. The Unit was staffed with one sergeant and six officers, all assigned to ride motorcycles. The Federal grant allowed the formation of the Unit to focus on speeding and other driving violations on local highways. The core mission of the Unit was the enforcement of traffic laws along Interstate 25, specifically in the areas around Fillmore and Woodmen. Both of these sites were chosen due to the high traffic volumes, crash rates and traffic violation rates. Crash rates in these areas decreased drastically after the implementation of the Motor Unit. In a six month period, accidents decreased 64% at Woodmen and I-25 and 36% at Fillmore and I-25 compared to crash rates in 1986.

Well, as expected, the federal money petered out, so the mission changed. Over the years, lots of changes happened, and now the unit has a bevy of duties as explained in the report.

But the purpose of Myers' report is spelled out in a chart showing how traffic citations have dropped sharply in recent years:

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And so has revenue, declining from $7.2 million for traffic enforcement in 2006 to $4.2 million last year.

During that same time frame, injury crashes have dropped slightly, while non-injury crashes have dived by 18 percent. All crashes have gone down by 24 percent.

Along the way, the motor unit has seen calls for service quadruple in five years and felony arrests increase by a factor of three.

So, point made.

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