6 - Florida Highway Patrol - 
Florida

SITE DESCRIPTION

The State of Florida and the Florida Highway Patrol comprised the third state-wide site. The current population for the State of Florida is 15,111,244 (as estimated by the 1999 U.S. Census), ranking the State fourth in population in the United States. There are currently 13,142,253 drivers licensed by the State of Florida.

Figure 27: Florida Population Versus Licensed Drivers, 1990-1998

Figure 27: Florida Population Versus Licensed Drivers, 1990-1998d

The total square mileage of the state is 58,677 miles, including 4,424 square miles of water. Florida also has nearly 1,200 miles of coastline along both the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. The tourism industry continues to grow in Florida, bringing the total number of tourists visiting the state in 1998 to 48.7 million persons. This is an increase of 7.5 million people, just since 1995.

LEA DESCRIPTION

The Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) covers the 80,000 miles of roadways throughout the State. The enforcement priority of the Department is highway safety. The FHP focuses on impaired driving offenses, occupant restraint violations, unlawful speeding, faulty vehicle equipment and drug interdiction in order to create a safer driving environment. The Agency has 1,740 sworn officers and employs approximately 500 more civilian workers located in ten different districts.

The FHP has successfully been modernized over the years and has an extensive artillery of equipment. This LEA has 12 airplanes, 5 helicopters, 4 mobile breath-alcohol testing units, 4 Speed Measuring Awareness Radar Trailers (SMART), 4 seatbelt "Convincers" used in public safety demonstrations, a mobile command post used in natural disasters and emergencies and several show cars also used in public safety demonstrations. The FHP also has 1,947 moving radar units and 431 VASCAR units to help the Department to enforce speeding laws. Much of this equipment was obtained via grant money, and the FHP works closely with each troop to determine what needs are most important. Each troop is asked for recommendations pertaining to the pursuit and expenditure of grant monies.

Each troop of the Florida Highway Patrol has created special enforcement programs targeting aggressive driving actions. While, there is no specific State-level aggressive driving legislation supporting these efforts, the FHP has worked closely with the judicial branch to use existing legislation to ensure effective penalties for those who drive aggressively. The FHP defines aggressive driving as two or more dangerous violations in rapid succession or simultaneously, and "aggressive driving" is noted in the comment area of each written ticket. These enforcement efforts are carried out by officers in unmarked vehicles that are not commonly associated with police work, such as Jeep Cherokees. All of these special, unmarked vehicles are equipped with video technology. These vehicles are not used as pursuit vehicles, but rather work in conjunction with other patrol cars to apprehend motorists who drive dangerously.

The FHP runs special enforcement programs on every holiday of the year including Christmas, Thanksgiving and New Year's Eve, with DUI prevention as the main focus. Each year, the Department recognizes the top 100 "DUI troopers" in conjunction with MADD. These officers are rewarded with the installation of video technology, mentioned above, in their patrol vehicles. The FHP is also researching the possibility of placing mobile data terminals in each patrol car. Trial programs currently are running in Jacksonville and Panama City with these mobile information systems.

TRAFFIC ENFORCEMENT TRENDS

The Florida Highway Patrol provided citation data in great detail by individual violation type, but with yearly (instead of monthly) totals for 1990-1998. Nevertheless, the data seem adequate to fulfill our needs for analysis purposes. The following chart (Figure 28) presents FHP labor hours. The top line represents the total combined work hours for all FHP officers and supervisors combined. The second line shows the total work hours for FHP officers expended on traffic law enforcement (without supervisors' time). Line three is the total hours spent patrolling (both officers and supervisors) and line four is the number of officers' patrol hours; again, the difference between lines three and four would be the number of hours that supervisors spent on patrol.

Figure 28: Florida Highway Patrol - Total Traffic Citations, 1990-1998

Figure 28: Florida Highway Patrol - Total Traffic Citations, 1990-1998d

Figure 29: Florida Highway Patrol - Total Work Hours, 1990-1999

Figure 29: Florida Highway Patrol - Total Work Hours, 1990-1999d

The chart below shows that the numbers of traffic citations (all offenses combined) issued by FHP began to decline in 1992 and leveled off somewhat from 1994-1998. This parallels the trend for traffic hours on patrol.

Breaking out speeding citations, we see that the number of citations for speeding issued by the FHP have declined (Figure 30).

Figure 30: Florida Highway Patrol - Total Speed Citations, 1990-1998

Figure 30: Florida Highway Patrol - Total Speed Citations, 1990-1998d

The number of arrests for DUI offenses are presented below and mirror the number of citations issued for that offense, as would be expected. The top line is the total DUI arrests (made by officers and supervisors), and the bottom line indicates the total arrests made by the officers.

Figure 31: Florida Highway Patrol - DUI Arrests, 1990-1999

Figure 31: Florida Highway Patrol - DUI Arrests, 1990-1999d

Arrests for DUI offenses also have declined, as indicated by the number of citations issued (Figure 32).

Figure 32: Florida Highway Patrol - Total DUI Citations, 1990-1998

Figure 32: Florida Highway Patrol - Total DUI Citations, 1990-1998d

Figure 33 shows the amount of time spent by officers (bottom line) and both officers and supervisors combined (top line) on DUI investigations.

Figure 33: Florida Highway Patrol - DUI Investigations, 1990-1999

Figure 33: Florida Highway Patrol - DUI Investigations, 1990-1999d

The number of safety belt citations issued has increased (Figure 34, top line). The bottom line indicates the number of safety belt citations issued by FHP officers for violations; the top line includes supervisors.

Figure 34: Florida Highway Patrol - Safety Belt Citations, 1990-1999

Figure 34: Florida Highway Patrol - Safety Belt Citations, 1990-1999d

Figure 35 separates the number of child restraint violations from adult safety belt violations. The vast majority of safety belt citations were issued for adult violations. Beginning in 1997, child restraint citations were taken out of the category for safety belt violations (a non-moving traffic violation) and recorded as a more serious moving violation. Child restraint citations now appear under the category "other moving violations," for which we did not receive a breakdown.

Figure 35: Florida Highway Patrol - Safety Belt Citations by Type, 1990-1998

Figure 35: Florida Highway Patrol - Safety Belt Citations by Type, 1990-1998d

SUMMARY

The number of patrol hours recorded by the FHP has gradually declined since 1992. This has been reflected in a decrease in overall traffic citation volume, although proportionately, the number of citations issued decreased more than the patrol hours. The yearly totals of arrests for DUI have declined sharply since 1990. Speeding citations also have been reduced, although there have been moderate increases in recent years. The one area where there has been an increase is safety belt violations; the number of citations issued have increased dramatically. Statewide population and the number of licensed drivers have maintained a steady increase.