Traffic infractions down, revenue up at MLT Police Department

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While Mountlake Terrace police officers are writing fewer ticket infractions to drivers they pull over in traffic stops, the department is seeing an increase in revenue from varying sources. That’s one of the conclusions reached in the 2013 Second Quarter Police Department Update presented to the Mountlake Terrace City Council on Aug. 15.

Mountlake Terrace Police Chief Greg Wilson and members of his command staff were on hand at the council’s work/study session last Thursday to present the report.

Statistics in the report show Mountlake Terrace police officers pulled over drivers 4,453 times during the three-month period of April-June, 2013, and issued 2,116 tickets, representing about 47.5 percent of the traffic stops. “Less than half the time we are writing infractions to the people we stop,” said Mountlake Terrace Police Department Commander Don Duncan.

During the same monthly period in 2012, the police department pulled over 4,284 drivers and issued 2,394 tickets; about 55.9 percent of the drivers received infractions. In the second quarter of 2011 about 54 percent of drivers stopped were given tickets.

“So often people are saying, the officers are just out there giving people tickets; that’s obviously not what we are doing,” Duncan said. “We’re out there contacting people, being visible, making a presence and letting the citizens of the city know that we are out there doing our job.”

While the number of traffic infractions written during the second quarter is down from past years, the amount of revenue raised by the police department is on track to be the highest annual total ever. During the first half of 2013 the police department brought in $191,468; if that pace is continued during the last six months of the year revenue will top the 2012 total of $356,626, the highest on record.

“While we are not in the business of making money, that money certainly serves a worthwhile purpose in offsetting jail costs (and) court costs, which you are all aware are considerable,” Assistant Chief Pete Caw told the city council. “It’s not free to put someone in jail.”

Police department revenue consists primarily of money collected in property forfeitures, traffic infraction fines, and other fine payments.

You can view the entire 2013 Second Quarter Police Department Update here.

— By Doug Petrowski

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