Gretchen Schuldt
Court Watch

Police Suddenly Giving More Traffic Tickets

Tickets up in August, September, after declining for years.

By , Wisconsin Justice Initiative - Oct 9th, 2017 11:27 am
Police Administration Building, 951 N. James Lovell St. Photo by Christopher Hillard.

Police Administration Building, 951 N. James Lovell St. Photo by Christopher Hillard.

Municipal Court traffic cases were down 13 percent during the first nine months of the year compared to the same time period last year, court records show.

Overall, there were 31,515 traffic cases in Milwaukee Municipal Court through September, down 4,912 from the number in the same time period last year, an average drop of 546 cases per month.

The court does not originate the cases – the statistics reflect the activity of the Milwaukee Police Department.

Traffic Cases Filed in Municipal Court. Source: Milwaukee Municipal Court.

Traffic Cases Filed in Municipal Court. Source: Milwaukee Municipal Court.

The number of traffic cases jumped sharply in August and September as public pressure about the issue got through to police.

The Police Department is using a data-driven system, Data Driven Approaches to Crime and Traffic Safety (DDACT), to identify traffic enforcement target areas, Asst. Police Chief James Harpole said. DDACT effort was made a priority enforcement tool in April, he told the Common Council’s Public Safety and Health Committee.

Steve O’Connell of the Sherman Park Neighborhood Association listed for committee members  some high-accident areas around Sherman Park.

Sherman Park residents gathered signatures on petitions seeking a written plan from the Police Department on how it will step up traffic enforcement in the city. The petitions also ask that police be required to report to the committee monthly on how many traffic tickets they issue. The circulators collected 76 pages of signatures without too much effort, O’Connell said.

The number of tickets issued by police has gone down dramatically over several years, he said.

“What’s going on? Why less tickets? There’s no reason for less tickets,” he said.

Annual Municipal Court Traffic Cases. Source: Milwaukee Municipal Court.

Annual Municipal Court Traffic Cases. Source: Milwaukee Municipal Court.

Committee Chair Ald. Robert Donovan said bad driving was “epidemic” throughout the city.

“I am telling you, and you know damned well…that traffic safety in this city is for crap,” Donovan told Harpole.

“Every single time I drive, I’m actually afraid,” Ald Mark Borkowski said. He expressed some frustration with a police PowerPoint presentation on crime and traffic enforcement. “All I’m hearing is statistics,” he said. “We all get these damned calls, and it’s not right. These roads are out of control and it’s not OK.”

Harpole said traffic enforcement was a priority for the police.

“Our officers are putting forth a concerted effort every single day to make this city a safer place,” he said.

Gretchen Schuldt writes a blog for Wisconsin Justice Initiative, whose mission is “To improve the quality of justice in Wisconsin by educating the public about legal issues and encouraging civic engagement in and debate about the judicial system and its operation.

3 thoughts on “Court Watch: Police Suddenly Giving More Traffic Tickets”

  1. Jeff M says:

    The drives across the north side, Silver Spring, Hampton and parts of Capitol Drive are insane. Double the speed limit, weaving in and out, often running red lights…mind boggling. Please try to reign this in.

  2. John Reineck says:

    Middle of the day, light traffic, and 3 motorcycle cops all waiting at the first stop light left off the interstate onto Capital Drive. They were there to hit every driver they can with a ticket, This was not a safety issue, it’s a revenue grab. Tickets are down 13% this year and they need to make up ground in a hurry. I’m sure I missed one posted speed limit sign, but come on…. I’m not saying I wasn’t speeding , but a 30 mph limit on a major road like Capital is crazy in itself. Cops picked the exact spot they know would grab the most drivers. I say that’s foul play.

    I drive 28,000 miles a year and haven’t had a ticket in about 5 years. I know a what smells fishy and what’s legit.

  3. Lynn S says:

    People drive like idiots downtown too. Way to fast.

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