Local law enforcement wrote 64 seat-belt tickets per day during recent campaign

photo by: Journal-World photo illustration

Story updated: 12:29 p.m. June 6, 2018

In addition to the man who was shot by Lawrence police after his traffic stop devolved into a physical fight with an officer, over 930 other people were pulled over as part of the recent Click it or Ticket seat-belt enforcement campaign in Douglas County.

More than 890 people got tickets for seat-belt violations, according to numbers shared by participating law enforcement agencies, for an average of 64 tickets per day during the two-week campaign. Officers wrote other citations too from those stops, but far fewer than those for the effort’s described purpose.

Officers from the Lawrence Police Department doled out the bulk of local tickets, stopping a total of 855 vehicles and issuing 807 seat-belt tickets as part of the campaign, according to Sgt. Amy Rhoads.

In addition, Lawrence police issued 10 child-restraint citations, one texting-while-driving citation and 99 other citations and arrests, including four DUI arrests, Rhoads said.

Rhoads described the police department’s participation in the campaign as officers conducting “overtime saturation patrols to aggressively enforce Kansas occupant restraint, texting, impaired driving, and other traffic laws.” She said the effort was supported by a grant from the Kansas Department of Transportation. 

The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office also participated, making 72 traffic stops resulting in 52 tickets for failure to wear seat belts, Sgt. Kristen Channel said. Channel said deputies wrote nine tickets for other traffic violations.

Statewide, more than 150 law enforcement agencies participated in this year’s Click it or Ticket campaign, May 21 through Sunday, according to a Kansas Highway Patrol news release.

The highway patrol described the effort as a safety campaign.

“Our increased enforcement around Memorial Day serves as a reminder that wearing a seat belt is the easiest thing you can do to save your life,” the news release said.

Kansas ranks toward the bottom one-third in seat-belt usage among all 50 states, according to the highway patrol. In 2017, nearly half of the 359 people who died in Kansas crashes weren’t buckled up.

On May 29, Lawrence resident Akira S. “Nell” Lewis, 34, who is black, was shot by a Lawrence Police Department officer in the 100 block of West Sixth Street. He was taken to a hospital in stable condition.

Lewis was initially pulled over for a seat-belt violation by an officer participating in Click it or Ticket, according to the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office, the outside agency investigating the officer-involved shooting. Investigators said the driver was uncooperative and refused to get out of his vehicle — though they have not answered why he was asked to exit the vehicle — and then attacked the officer, knocking him to the ground and hitting him multiple times. A backup officer fired one shot, hitting the driver.

Lewis had bench warrants for failing to appear in court for Douglas and Johnson county traffic cases alleging that he drove without a valid license, registration and insurance. Investigators have not answered whether those warrants factored into the shooting incident.

Seat-belt tickets issued during 2018 Click it or Ticket campaign

Lawrence Police Department — 807

Douglas County Sheriff’s Office — 52

Eudora Police Department — 25

Baldwin City Police Department — 12

Information from the University of Kansas Office of Public Safety was not immediately available.

Related story

Following police shooting, some city leaders call for more police training, data regarding Lawrence traffic stops

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