LJWorld.com weblogs Town Talk
Tickets issued by Lawrence police hit five-year low
You all must have been a bunch of angels in 2012.
There’s a new report out at City Hall, and it shows city police officers in 2012 issued the fewest number of citations — everything from speeding to noise violations — in at least five years
The Municipal Court’s annual report total citation activity checked in at 28,707 citations, down 7.6 percent from the approximately 31,000 tickets issued in 2011. The new totals mark the first time in at least five years that ticket volume has fallen below the 30,000-ticket level. The city’s recent high was 2010, when 39,699 tickets were issued.
One area where you perhaps weren’t so good is feeding that parking meter downtown. The city issued 94,064 parking meter tickets, an increase of about 5 percent from a year ago.
Here are some other facts figures from the recent report:
• Speeding tickets checked in at 2,268, up slightly from the 2,221 issued in 2011. But the city is issuing far fewer speeding tickets than it used to. In 2008, for example, the city issued more than 6,000 speeding tickets. It issued more than 5,000 tickets in 2009 and 2010, and then the totals plummeted.
In past years, city officials have said the decline has been caused in part because there have been several vacant positions in the city’s Police Department, although the past couple of city budgets have included funding to hire additional police officers. Still, Police Chief Tarik Khatib has told city commissioners on multiple occasions that the department still has serious staffing needs, and he says the department is having to shuffle its priorities in order to respond to the number of emergency calls coming into the city’s dispatch center.
I haven’t had a chance to talk to city officials yet about the report, but perhaps that is what is going on here. Or, maybe, everybody is just being so safe and courteous out on the roadways these days.
• Tickets for operating under the influence of alcohol hit a five-year low at 394. That’s down from the recent high of 798 in 2010. Minor-in-possession tickets also declined to 341, which is below the five-year average of about 375 tickets.
• Noise violations hit a new low at 176 tickets, down from the five-year high of 286 in 2008. I went a bit further back on this one to see how it compared to the days when the issue of party houses was a major topic of discussion at City Hall. The numbers are way off from that time. In 2006, for example, the city issued 449 noise violations.
• Apparently, even the animals are being better behaved. Cases for animals at-large (insert your own college student joke here) fell to a new five-year low at 303. That’s down from a five-year high of 513 in 2010.
• I don’t have past years to compare this with, but I found it interesting nonetheless: The number of downtown parkers who received a special habitual violator ticket — in other words, they had five or more parking meter violations within a 30-day period — was 1,502.
• The top traffic-related offenses in 2012 were: — Speeding: 2,268 — Seat belt violation: 1,684 — No proof of insurance: 1,617 — Stop sign violation: 754 — Driving while suspended: 701
• The top public-offense-related violations in 2012 were: — Theft: 394 — Minor in possession: 341 — Animal at large: 260 — Disorderly conduct: 212 — Battery: 208 — Criminal trespass: 208
I know some of the numbers above don’t match the ticket numbers reported earlier in the article. I believe the difference is that these are offense numbers and the others are ticket numbers. In other words, I think these numbers only reflect those cases that have been closed.
• The last statistic from the report is the one the budget-makers care about. Declining ticket volume did produce a decline in city revenue. Total revenue collected by the court was down 7 percent from a year ago, to $3.58 million.