Nassau County Traffic Ticket Slowdown

Nearly 10% of the patrol officers who typically issue summonses in Nassau County have engaged in a yearlong slowdown.  Parking and moving violations were down 20% from 2010 to 2011 and are likely down approximately 28% overall by this year’s end.

The decline in summonses is will cost the county approximately $4.1 million in revenue this year that was otherwise expected to be generated.

It seems as if the more counties rely on the revenue raised by summonses, the more the officers who write them have recognized that they have a great deal of leverage as they alone control how aggressively they write.

In Nassau County, an investigation focused on the 493 officers who wrote at least 50% fewer tickets during the first eight months of 2011 compared with the same 8 months in 2010.  About 160 of them had absolutely no excuse for the decline.

Note that the most up to date numbers (mid August to mid September 2012) show a slight increase (9% moving violations and 6% parking violations) compared to the same period in 2011.  However, that may be attributed to an increased focus on revenue generation and summons writing in general–many individual officer’s numbers are still down significantly from where they once were.

What’s always interesting about these summons slowdowns is the fine line that needs to be walked when it comes to ticket writing.  On one hand, a systematic slowdown by officers may be a violation of state laws which bar public-sector unions from striking or engaging in slowdowns.  On the other, requiring officers to issue a certain number of summonses (quotas) may also be a violation of state laws.  So commanding officers can’t tell patrol officers how many to write, but can call them out on writing too little.  We end up in a Goldilocks situation and the parties involved need to settle on what is considered “just right”.

And don’t forget…this is all about safety.  Very little to do with money, right?

Submitted by Scott Feifer