Grand Prairie News

Dallas, Texas

City to speed up ticketing

New devices expected to improve traffic officers' efficiency, safety


By JENNIFER AREND / The Dallas Morning News

It's already a bad day when you're speeding somewhere and you see those blue flashing lights in your rear-view mirror.

But then, to add insult to injury, you have to wait several minutes while the police officer collects all the necessary information, goes back to his cruiser and processes the citation.

In Grand Prairie, for better or worse, officers will soon be able to cite speeders and other traffic violators in a couple of minutes flat, thanks to the PocketCitation, an electronic ticket writing device.

The city has purchased 15 of the handheld units and one in-car unit, including the accompanying software and portable printers, in hopes of speeding up the ticket-writing process and maintaining better records. The City Council approved the $62,000 purchase this month with money from its court technology fund.

"This will help decrease the time it takes to do a traffic stop, but it will also increase the officers' efficiency and the officers' safety," said Steven Cherry, court services director for the city.

Other area cities have acquired similar ticket-writing devices in the last few years, including DeSoto, Burleson and Irving.

Grand Prairie officers went to Burleson, where the police use the same device, to see it in action. An officer there using the PocketCitation was able to generate a citation with three violations in less than 2 minutes.

Mr. Cherry said the devices would also help eliminate data entry errors and lost citations.

Officers making traffic stops would swipe the driver's license magnetic strip through the device, which looks similar to a personal digital assistant. The driver's information is then downloaded onto the handheld computer. Location, specifics about the violation and other information can be typed into the device.

Motorists then receive a printed copy. The data from the citation can then be transferred to the court system and police records.

Swiping the card through the device will also check the driver for any outstanding Grand Prairie warrants.

Traffic Sgt. Eric Hansen said the department had considered moving to an electronic ticketing system a few years ago, but he said the technology wasn't as good as it is now.

"We were most impressed with this system," he said.

Sgt. Hansen said his officers were looking forward to the change.

"It will make their jobs easier," he said.