October 5, 2006
Traffic citations part of police work
Salinas police officers make thousands of traffic stops,
ticketing many decent people. Shouldn't cops spend
more time on serious problems like robbery, domestic violence
Police officers issue citations to many "decent
folks" who violate traffic laws.
Tickets save lives. When mostly well-behaving citizens
break traffic laws, thousands of times per year, they
prevent peace officers from other criminal pursuits.
The Police Department exists to serve the community by
protecting life and property, preventing crime, enforcing
the law and maintaining order for all citizens.
Here are some facts about the impacts of poor driving
you may not know:
- Auto accident deaths decline in direct proportion
to the number of tickets written for moving violations.
- Causing injury or death while driving under the influence
is the most commonly committed violent crime in our
- Nationwide, 13,000 deaths are caused each year directly
related to alcohol and automobile crashes. Thirty-six
people die each day, and tens of thousands of lives
are scarred for life.
- Locally, $1 million dollars of the Salinas Police
Department's $33 million budget is devoted to
dealing with traffic violators.
The department could save three-quarters of this money
if drivers exhibited more common courtesy and self-discipline.
That $750,000 saved could deploy seven additional officers
into critical-need areas, immediately.
Here are some ways you can help peace officers better
utilize their time:
- Abide by speed limits — all the time.
- Park in appropriate and legal areas — not handicapped
- Stop at stop signs; not simply pausing and rolling
- Slow down instead of speeding through yellow lights.
- Allow others to move ahead when merging, giving way
- Keep alcohol separated from driving.
- Use a designated driver or call a taxi when driving
skills might be impaired.
- Cease with lame excuses when pulled over, such as "I
only intended to be in there for a minute," "There
was no one coming, so it seemed a silly waste of time
to sit there," "I didn't hurt anyone," "I
was running late," and ... Blah, blah, blah.
Make driving a focused activity.
How can a driver concentrate on traffic when talking on
the phone — socially or closing a deal, listening
to the radio, responding to an e-mail or instant messaging,
drinking a soda, trimming fingernails, arguing with a passenger,
applying mascara and smoking? And, people do all of this
when they should be observing oncoming and merging traffic,
pedestrians and animals!
Obeying traffic laws is an individual act of police-partnership integrity.
Drivers who exercise self-discipline and graciousness free up the time of peace
officers to fulfill their mission: "Working in partnership with the people
of Salinas to enhance the quality of life through the delivery of professional,
superior and compassionate police services to the community."