Why are Kansas City police issuing fewer tickets?

For the past year, the Kansas City Police Department has been using a small electronic device to issue tickets…but fewer of them. The hand-held device lets an officer scan a driver’s license, send the ticket information directly to the court, and print out a ticket for the alleged offender. Photo courtesy KCPD.

Posted by Joe Lambe

It may be kindness, technical glitches or both, but Kansas City police are ticketing far fewer people and that costs the city money.

Through the end of August, they have written 40,700 fewer tickets than for the same period last year, police reported Tuesday at the meeting of the Board of Police Commissioners.

When Commissioner Patrick McInerney asked about that, Police Chief Darryl Forté said he was probably responsible for much of the 24 percent decline.

When he started as chief about a year ago, he stressed writing fewer tickets in areas where police are trying to build relationships.

On Tuesday, he described his view: “Use discretion and try to develop relationships and try not to be so heavy handed if we can.”

But other police reported that technical and training issues with the e-ticketing that began in August of last year have also played a role.

The handheld devices use a cell signal from Sprint to move data and signal coverage has been spotty in some places.

Training in use of the devices has sometimes been a problem but Forté said that is not true across the board.

“When you talk to people who use it on a daily basis, they’re not having any difficulty,” he said.

McInerney said after the meeting that he does not have a problem with Forté’s kinder approach.

“Used the right way,” he said, “it’s the right way to go.”

McInerney added that in the past, about 25 percent of tickets were dismissed in court because they were illegible, and that problem no longer exists. The commissioner also suggested other factors were possibly involved in the lower ticket numbers, such as “behavior modification from red light cameras.”

The decline in ticket numbers appears to be holding steady.

The Kansas City Star reported September 1 that tickets were down 38,000 through July compared to the same time last year, a 25 percent decline that had cost the city about $1.5 million in revenue.

See a video on how eticketing works


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