Wichita police to begin testing electronic ticketing system

06/10/2013 6:32 PM

06/10/2013 6:32 PM

Correction: An earlier version of this story had the incorrect court providing estimates.

Issuing traffic tickets in Wichita will now be as easy as printing a receipt at the grocery store.

The Wichita Police Department will be deploying its new eCitation electronic ticketing system in select vehicles on Tuesday, testing the system, which has seen numerous delays in the past year.

The project, which cost slightly more than $500,000, originally was approved in May 2012. Police had estimated it would be in place by the end of last year.

“As technology often goes, it took a little longer,” Wichita Police Capt. Darrell Atteberry said Monday. “We ran into some problems, but we’re getting it done.”

One of the reasons the department pursued electronic ticketing was the amount of illegible tickets issued by officers, Atteberry said.

“What we found in the research was that many tickets are set for court because of illegibility,” Atteberry said. “Either the vehicle description is wrong or somebody can’t read their own name.”

The Wichita Municipal Court estimates that less than 2 percent of the approximately 75,000 tickets issued annually require further review because of illegibility, said Donte Martin, municipal court administrator.

That means up to 1,500 per year. For a typical offense, such as speeding 5 mph over the limit, that amounts to $135,000 per year, Martin said.

In addition to saving money, the system will allow officers to ticket more people.

He said it takes three to five minutes to write a citation but that the new system could reduce that to two to three minutes.

“The number of tickets is down a bit, but our fatality accidents are up,” Atteberry said. “Promoting safety through writing tickets makes a safer Wichita.”

Atteberry said more ticketing is not the goal of the program. He said its real purpose is to improve officer safety, reducing time officers are standing outside by busy streets.

“Exposure is a concern,” he said. “If you look at line-of-duty deaths for officers, every year there are a number of them that are traffic-related. We don’t want that to happen here.”

After a two-week testing period, the department is expected to install the system in all 175 of its police cars.

The system has an annual maintenance fee of $51,300, but that does not go into effect until the department officially “signs on” with the program, Atteberry said.

It is manufactured by Brazos Technologies, a 13-year-old company based in College Station, Texas.

“We’ve got to be fully pleased with it first,” he said.

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