Saturday, November 20, 2010

An inconvenient truth?

The truth, that nebulous concept that floats in and out of the aether always just seemingly out of reach, has a way of rearing its ugly head every once in a while. Now we all know that traffic tickets are nothing more than a user fee charged to motorists -- it's just that some folks pay a higher user fee than others -- but the cities and counties who depend on this ticket revenue will never admit it. Instead we're told that the police are writing tickets to make sure the roads are safe for all motorists. Yeah, right.

Leave it to City of Houston Attorney David Feldman, he who can't help but shoot himself in the foot, to tear down the public safety facade and call a spade a shovel. According to KRPC-TV,

Money was on the mind of City Attorney David Feldman in August when he implemented a new rule ordering all officers to show up in court at 1 p.m. on assigned court days, even though you have to be there at 8 a.m.
"With the more focused appearance time, we are experiencing far fewer no shows," Feldman said.

Mr. Feldman's move has reduced the amount of overtime paid to officers for sitting around the municipal courthouse all morning (a savings of $250,000 in August and September of this year compared to 2009) and has reduced the number of officers who fail to appear in court.

Texas Watchdog analyzed data from the city of Houston and put together a list of the officers who have had the most tickets dismissed due to their non-appearance in court. Officer Morrison was seriously injured when he was struck by a motorist during a traffic stop in 2009.

Apparently HPD officers aren't altogether enthralled by the new procedure, either, as the number of tickets written in the past year has dropped by 25%.

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