Thursday, November 17, 2011

Why Are Police Officers Pulling Everyone Over?

Everyone knows the drill. You hear a siren and check your rearview mirror to see a police car behind you with flashing lights. You move over to the right side of the road safely; sadly enough the patrol car follows you. With a sigh you put your vehicle in park and turn on your flashing warning lights. As the Officer approaches, the same thought runs through everyone’s head, “What did I do?”

The truth is, officers execute traffic stops for many different reasons. Some would think the Officer has nothing better to do than pull over vehicles. Others would argue what they did is not really an issue worthy of a ticket. After the Officer tells the driver the reason for the stop the driver may even argue they didn’t realize what they did was wrong.

On a daily basis Officers who work in the Patrol Division and the Traffic Division patrol the city and look for traffic violations. Why the additional attention to traffic violations? The focus for additional enforcement is on high accident locations and violations which can result in serious injury, such as seatbelt violations and speeding.

As a comparison, the average traffic stop lasts from 7 to 15 minutes. Traffic accidents can last 30 minutes to 3 hours and can disrupt the flow of traffic if lanes are blocked or emergency equipment is required. Plus, added benefits to traffic stops are identifying those drivers who have warrants for various criminal activities in Overland Park, Kansas and adjacent cities, or those individuals who have histories of criminal behavior and could be related to crime trends.

On 11/10/2011 monthly results were provided for officers working on an accident and crime reduction initiative. 147 cars were stopped and 204 tickets written. Of those tickets, 37 were red light violations and 42 were seatbelt violations. Two of the stops even involved warrant arrests. These statistics do not include the number of tickets and arrests related to stops performed by Officers regularly patrolling the streets.

The idea for traffic enforcement does not include an arbitrary stop to pass the time. Traffic enforcement not only thwarts immediate hazardous driving, but also provides a reminder for the countless drivers who pass the traffic stop to drive responsibly. Those drivers see the enforcement and adjust their driving due to the presence of the Police Officer. Hopefully, continued enforcements such as these may convince citizens it is better to arrive at a location safely, than quickly.