Lookine Beyond The Ticket-- Traffic Law Enforcement And Beyond

Looking Beyond The Ticket: Traffic Law Enforcement and Beyond

As the 21st century approaches, changing societal issues and priorities present new challenges to the law enforcement community. Society demands remedies to rising crime rates, drug use, and traffic fatalities/injuries, and communities want increased police visibility. However, law enforcement agencies, in most cases, are expected to do this with current or static resources and budgets. As a result, law enforcement administrators are searching for new ways to do business and for more efficient and effective uses of existing resources. Proactive traffic enforcement (a standard tool from this century) and "looking beyond the ticket" are effective tools that can assist in meeting these challenges.

Law enforcement executives and officers, elected officials, highway safety advocates, and civic leaders need to understand the relationship between traffic enforcement, crime, and public safety. Proactive traffic enforcement makes roadways safer, reduces crime and improves the quality of life in our neighborhoods.

What else is "looking beyond the ticket?" It is approaching each traffic stop with objectivity and remaining alert for indicators of criminal activity and officer safety warnings. The anecdotal examples in this document show why proactive traffic enforcement and "looking beyond the ticket" are a winning combination. Using these examples you can explore why they work, how they work, the benefits, and the challenges. More than 100 local, county, and state agencies across the country contributed successful "looking beyond the ticket" cases for review, and officer interviews for insight. Cumulatively, the officers interviewed had 949 years of experience as "street officers," and their ideas about patrol practices are vital.


Benefits of "Looking Beyond The Ticket" are:

  • traffic law enforcement is universal to law enforcement; it is not a new science or high-tech;
  • traffic law enforcement is an effective tool to reduce criminal activity; it provides a visible deterrent; and,
  • patrol/traffic officers and deputy sheriffs are versatile and efficient generalists; they enforce traffic laws and apprehend criminals.

Peoria, IIlinois
1994-95 Traffic Enforcement Results

Traffic Tickets Issued ­ Increased 16%

Officer Initiated Activity ­ Increased 14%

Total Criminal Arrests ­ Increased 34%

Traffic Crashes ­ Decreased 12%

Citizen Generated Calls ­ Decreased 7%

Part One Crime Index ­ Decreased 6%


Proactive traffic enforcement and "looking beyond the ticket" worked in Peoria, Illinois, with the following results:

Peoria is not an isolated example. It illustrates the benefits proactive traffic enforcement and "looking beyond the ticket" can produce. Peoria had the same challenges any agency may have to face to be successful. There was a negative perception about traffic enforcement both in the community and among the law enforcement officers. No doubt you have heard statements like, "it was only a traffic ticket," or "he was sent back to the traffic unit." These types of statements lessen the importance of traffic enforcement and traffic citations and gives the appearance that officers are punished by being assigned to the traffic unit. Peoria changed these notions through education. Multi-agency cooperation overcame limited resources. Data collection and analysis were accurate and used as a basis to direct or redirect efforts and market successes.

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"Looking beyond the ticket" begins before the traffic stop. Believing in, understanding, and recognizing traffic efforts for their inherent value are essential. There are three key elements that can help in being successful.

  • Changing the public's and law enforcement's perceptions about traffic enforcement through education, to foster support for traffic enforcement and "looking beyond the ticket" efforts.
  • Using accurate statistics to identify traffic and criminal trends provides an effective and strategic management tool. Accurate record keeping, data collection and analysis, evaluation, and community participation are crucial.
  • Evaluating impact and results are vital steps in marketing proactive traffic enforcement and "looking beyond the ticket."


The following information provides a closer look at these challenges and outlines the elements necessary for developing successful programs and successful law enforcement officers.

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Contents | Looking Beyond the Ticket: Traffic Law Enforcement and Beyond | Benefits |  Challenges |  Perceptions | Crime/Crash Clock 1996 |  The Facts | Education | Elements of Success | References