Speed Traps, Ticket Quotas, and Policing for Profit

At what point does traffic enforcement become more about revenue than about safety? It would appear once speed traps become the preferred method. In this video, Officer Wylie is able to churn out revenue like a well oiled machine, writing 355 tickets or more in a single month. How? Well, cities like Carrollton, TX are investing a great deal of money in equipment to make revenue generation by police officers a quick and effortless task. With single purpose and revenue generation equipment they are able to tax citizens with minimal effort and time. This video shows just how efficient policing for profit has become.

Merriam Webster definition:
Speed Trap: (noun) an area of road where police hide from drivers and use special equipment to catch people who are driving too fast

The police brass and other city beneficiaries tell a fine tuned story about how speed traps are all about safety. However, that story just doesn’t hold water. How does hiding promote safety? In fact, wouldn’t a visible presence promote greater safety than lack of any?

The definition of a speed trap pretty much tells you what is wrong with them…”hide from drivers” and “use special equipment to catch people who are driving too fast”.

It can be argued that hiding from drivers actually allows bad behavior in order to capitalize on it. Example: how is a cop hiding in an alley in a school zone keeping children safe from “dangerous” drivers? It doesn’t appear that it does. What it appears to do is let the cop lay in wait for a dangerous driver to actually drive dangerously around children in order to punish them. In this example, if the goal was actually about keeping the children safe, wouldn’t they want to PREVENT the dangerous behavior? You prevent dangerous driving by a) being visible to ensure drivers maintain a safe speed, b) being in a position to stop the dangerous behavior BEFORE it becomes a danger to the children.

It seems quite clear that hiding is all about punishment (revenue), and presence is about prevention (safety).

The second part of the definition is “using special equipment to catch people who are driving too fast”.

Isn’t the purpose of traffic law to prevent dangerous driving? These aren’t “crimes” like burglary or murder where the definition and purpose are clear. These are subjective traffic codes that are really designed for the worst common denominator, such as inexperienced drivers, bad weather, and bad traffic. They take no consideration for the experience and skill of the driver, nor do they consider lack of traffic or bad weather.

If the purpose is about safety, why do they need speed traps where cops hide in bushes with “special equipment” to try to figure out who the bad drivers are? Even the most novice driver can identify a “dangerous driver”. It doesn’t take scanning all cars just so this “special equipment” can tell them who the dangerous drivers are. Shouldn’t a trained police officer simply be able to identify dangerous/unsafe drivers? When they are just churning out tickets based on equipment telling them speed alone (as opposed to clearly dangerous driving), it seems pretty obvious that it’s about punishment (revenue), instead of about prevention (safety).

In Carrollton, there are several motorcycles and officers that effectively do nothing but speed traps to raise revenue. Since quotas are illegal, how did #RevenueRexRedden and crew “require” officers to write a certain number of tickets? These traffic cops were put on a “point” system where they get points for different revenue related functions such as citations.  Points or quota, they are obviously just horses of a different color. Quotas are illegal because they are a conflict of interest. At the end of the month, if a cop doesn’t have the points (quota) his boss expects, will his decisions be based on safety, or whatever it takes to keep his job?

To quote Dallas Police Chief David Brown:

“Let me say that writing citations to raise revenue…is not what police officers should be doing.”

We agree!

Besides, if it were really about safety, why don’t they worry about being “safe” themselves? (see videos below)

Carrollton Speed Tax

After watching our police department devolve into what seemed like nothing but a band of roving tax collectors, we finally decided to do something about it. While working to change an ugly speed trap policy, we discovered there were much bigger problems. Too many people are blissfully ignorant to the seedy underbelly of what really goes on with police. I was one of them.....until I educated myself. Check us out: Carrollton Speed Tax on YouTube