Citizens are stopped on a daily basis by the police for speeding. Some drivers take responsibility, some get argumentative. The result is either a traffic citation or a warning citation. Motorists can also receive traffic tickets if they’re involved in a traffic collision. In most cases, a ticket does get issued. While some police departments allow officers discretion–is it really worth it to issue citations for traffic accidents with little damage?–others have a blanket policy to write tickets for all offenders in traffic collisions. As a result, police departments often times get criticized for being “ticket happy.”
In Alpharetta, Georgia Officer Daniel Capps was fired for not issuing a traffic ticket to the party at fault, Charles Westover, in a traffic collision. There was minimal damage to the bumper of the other vehicle, and Capps decided it wasn’t enough to warrant a ticket. This ultimately led to his termination from the department.
The news report doesn’t say if Officer Capps completed a wreck report or not. However, it does mention that the other driver didn’t want Westover ticketed. Traffic accident reports already have a section that designate the party who caused the accident based on the evidence collected on scene. All the traffic ticket does is further penalize the person at fault, making the insurance company’s job a little more straightforward.
But the police don’t work for the insurance company and should not be required to issue a citation for slight fender benders. Of course, a citation should be issued if there is a collision causing a significant amount of damage or injury.
When Westover, the driver at fault, discovered that Capps was terminated he became upset and pushed back. He stated that Officer Capps was professional and courteous throughout the entire encounter. The reaction from Westover shows that Officer Capps left a positive impression.
The supervising Lieutenant, though, stated that Capps had a long history of disciplinary write-ups. Several were his fault. However, the last one listed is questionable; he was written up for “not writing enough tickets.”
While, ticket quotas are legal in the state of Georgia, this should be challenged. Yes, speeding laws should be enforced. There are thousands of people who are seriously injured and killed due to speeding drivers. But departments should not be allowed to compel officers to meet quotas. This brings an unnecessary burden on citizens. Again, if speeding, drivers should be stopped, but not everyone should be issued a ticket. Citations should remind a speeding driver to slow down, and warning tickets can be just as effective.
Officers should have the ability to use discretion on certain traffic violations. These men and women wear a gun and bullet resistant vest to work every day. Simply put, they are adults and should be allowed to use their judgment. There shouldn’t be a department policy telling them to write a ticket every time.