Letter to the Editor: Officers don’t write tickets to generate revenue

To the Editor:
Jul 1, 2014

To the Editor: 

I would like to take time to respond to Mr. Hershel Butts’ column, “Speed trap develops in the Glade,” that appeared in The Lebanon Democrat last week. I found myself rereading the column several times over the past week. I get more upset each time I read it. 

I can’t believe that in today’s society anyone would believe that officers are out writing tickets merely to generate revenue. To refer to officers who are upholding the law and trying to keep citizens safe as “revenue enforcement officers” is regrettable. 

The fact is our officers are out stopping motorists who violate the law, in hopes of changing their driving habits and reducing traffic crashes. I can guarantee you most motorists who are stopped for speeding are not going a “few” miles over the speed limit.   

This year already, the Lebanon Police Department has responded to 1,091 traffic crashes. Of those, 158 involved injuries and two resulted in the death of the driver. Unfortunately both fatal crashes involved speeding. The Lebanon Police Department conducts an analysis of traffic crash and traffic enforcement data each month. 

Our officers use the analysis to assist them in their traffic enforcement efforts. 

Location of traffic crashes is one of the major factors included in the analysis. 

Highway 109 is always one of the five leading crash locations identified monthly. Does it not make sense for officers to conduct traffic enforcement in locations that are identified as a high-crash location?

Since Jan. 1, Lebanon officers have made 6,603 traffic stops. Of those stopped, 2,468 (38 percent) received warnings from our officers. If revenue were the main reason for making traffic stops, one would think that the percentage of motorists receiving citations would be considerably higher. 

The fact is whether officers issue a warning or citation is purely at their discretion, and I can promise you that generating revenue does not factor into an officer’s decision. 

Any good law enforcement executive will also tell you that traffic stops result in the arrests of dangerous wanted people and can lead to reduced crime rates. 

The facts are that more officers across the country are being killed in traffic related incidents than are being murdered. 

We should support and thank our officers for putting their lives on the line each day and doing their job of keeping us safe. 

Scott Bowen

Lebanon police chief

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