"Why, hello officer!" TPD tells officers to do more traffic stops
Reporter: Craig Smith
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Tucson drivers may be getting to know police a bit better.
Officers are under orders to write more traffic tickets.
Where ever you drive in Tucson, there's more chance you'll have one of those, "Why hello, officer," experiences.
Tucson Police Chief Roberto Villasenor says something a lot of drivers would agree with: "You're out there driving around the city of Tucson. It is not hard to see a traffic violation one an hour."
But the Chief says as calls for police responses grew and the number of officers shrank, police spent more time running call to call, and less time making traffic stops.
TPD says in the first three months of 2010 officers wrote about 14 thousand tickets, in the same period two years later they wrote half that many.
Now the Chief's telling officers to do at least one traffic stop a day. He says it's good for traffic safety---and crime fighting in general.
"A lot of good arrests come from traffic stops. That's where we get most of our narcotic arrests. We get a lot of warrants that we're able to serve. There's benefits from traffic that have been proven from city after city. I'm just saying we can't forget that's part of our job."
The rule's not just for traffic stops. The department's looking to get more person to person contact between officers and the public.
So, what do members of the public think?
Ted Martinez says, "If they wanted contact with the public they should have officers in neighborhoods, you know, talking to the homeowners and to people in general not be pulling them over to meet a quota."
David Groben is a driver who says, "Having more contact, I think, is a good thing. And, you know what, sometimes, a few more tickets, like, for busted headlights and stuff, that might be good."
You may be thinking, oh great, more tickets. The Chief says an actual ticket is not a sure thing, you could escape with a warning.
A lot of KGUN9 viewers are unhappy with response time to calls like burglaries. So if police are devoting more time to traffic stops will that lead to even more delays?
The chief says TPD has devoted more officers to a special unit designed to work the phones and encourage people to work down the backlog of calls that way.