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TMCNet:  Police: E-ticketing makes traffic stops faster, easier

[July 03, 2011]

Police: E-ticketing makes traffic stops faster, easier

Jul 03, 2011 (The Frederick News-Post - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- The Frederick Police Department has decided it's time to stop writing tickets.

The news doesn't mean drivers should feel free to pound the accelerator, though. Traffic enforcement isn't disappearing -- it's just becoming more efficient with a new citation system city police will begin using in upcoming days, officials say.

"Most officers (issue tickets) more than once a day," Maryland State Police Sgt. Christopher Corea said. "This gives officers more time to become more proactive and readily available." On Wednesday morning, Corea, who developed the E-TIX software, visited Frederick to train officers on the system.

The E-TIX technology comes with a wide range of perks, Corea said. Rather than trying to press through layers of carbon copy to write a ticket, with E-TIX, officers can print citations in their cruisers.

And instead of transcribing a jumble of numbers from driver's licenses and vehicle registrations, police can scan the information straight into their computers.

"It's definitely a huge time saver," said Officer Vince Brown after sitting through the training session.

"Before this, my fastest time at a traffic stop was seven minutes, and that was flying through." The software could help trim stop times to between three and four minutes, officers said.

The Frederick Police Department is the first law enforcement agency in the county to join about 3,700 other officers in Maryland who are using E-TIX, according to Corea.

The department, which gives an average of 10,000 traffic citations annually, bought five units at about $1,000 each, but hopes to receive grant funding from the state to get 30 more, said Lt. Clark Pennington, an agency spokesman. While the hardware costs money, the state police provides the E-TIX software that they developed free of charge, Pennington added.

Without the system, officers hand-write citations, which agency employees later must decipher and enter into local databases. The tickets then travel to District Court, where another set of people type them up as computer records, Corea said.

With E-TIX, the ticket begins its life on the officer's computer and goes to the courts already in an electronic format. The driver on the scene still gets a hard copy.

"My measure of efficiency is how many times someone touches something," said Capt. Kevin Grubb, the city's deputy chief of police.

"With this (E-TIX), the number of times someone touches the citation can be cut down." Improved information sharing is another benefit to the ticketing system, according to state police. Investigators have even used the information from E-TIX to make arrests in crimes including homicide, robbery and burglary, Corea said.

And habitual speeders might find it a little harder to slip through the cracks, since the new system documents each time people have been stopped, even if they received only a warning.

"Enforcement is actually education, so if we've given you warnings, maybe we have to give you something that makes you pay more attention," state police Lt. Scott Keyser said.

Frederick officers started practicing with the system Friday, but each one must make 50 practice stops before he or she can start issuing electronic citations.

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