September 18, 2016 at 11:14 pm #176627557
I live in Madison, and a couple of weeks ago I unfortunately received a speeding ticket on John Nolen Drive (right at the point where it drops down from 45 to 35, which is arbitrarily low if you ask me…). The cop explained to me during the stop that they had just received an influx of state grant money for stepping up their traffic enforcement. He further explained that his primary reason for pulling me over was because they’re most interested in cracking down on drunk drivers, and speeding is “often associated with drunk driving” (which is pretty funny/ironic if you know me, seeing as I’m a teetotaler, believe it or not!).
I can definitely confirm that they have stepped up traffic enforcement over the last couple of weeks in Madison. I stumbled across the NMA website and became a supporting member 1 day after I got the ticket, so sadly I don’t think I qualify for the Traffic Justice Program (brilliant idea, by the way!), but suffice it to say I will be fighting the ticket.
I called my two state legislators and told them I do not support the use of state funds on something so trivial and patronizing as traffic enforcement. One of the folks on the legislator’s staff explained that the purpose of the grant money is primarily intended to reduce drunk driving. Too bad to see that instead it’s just being used for speed traps. I also emailed my local alderman asking she increase the speed limits on certain local roads (she responded by passing the buck a little bit), and I emailed the Madison police department.
I thought I would share the response I got from the police, since police chief Koval actually responded to me one day later. Here’s what he said:
Thank you for taking the time to send us your thoughts via our website.
It is never “fun” to receive any sort of ticket so I can sympathize with your situation. While traffic enforcement may not seem to be a priority to some, I can tell you that it is the number one concern that is brought up when I am out in the community – people speeding, drivers texting while driving, pedestrians almost getting run over, etc. We also receive feedback via our website and phone calls from citizens who are concerned about traffic laws being broken and their safety on the roadways. Our role as police officers consists of trying to find a good balance of our workload responding to calls for service, investigating crimes, engaging with our community and conducting traffic/safety enforcement.
No one wants to receive a ticket. You may believe that there are better things for us to do. You may believe that no one would have been harmed if you speed. I was not present for your specific incident, but if you believe you did not deserve your ticket you are certainly entitled to take your case to the court hearing to contest your ticket. We are, however, officials who are asked to uphold the laws…even traffic laws…and we are doing our best to uphold these laws. I am sorry you are disappointed in the situation and I hope this response has provided at least some clarification of our role.
Thank you for your time.
I thought it was interesting that he pointed out the #1 complaint the P.D. gets from the community is that they don’t enforce speed limits enough. That seems out of balance to me. I let him know in a reply that I would have to gather like-minded citizens to offer opposing feedback, to help balance the scales a little bit. I’m hoping there are some other motorists here in Wisconsin, particularly in Madison, that would consider contacting the police department and similarly letting them know we think heavy-handed traffic enforcement and additional speed traps are not welcome nor needed.
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