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Published: Thursday, 3/20/2003

Police seek 3% increase in traffic citations

BY ROBIN ERB
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Whether it is at intersections or in school zones, Toledo's police crews are cracking down on traffic scofflaws in an effort to boost traffic citations this year by 3 percent.

For motorists, that means fewer warnings and more tickets for speeding, failing to wear seat belts, and rolling through stop signs, said traffic Sgt. Paul Kerschbaum.

Last year, Toledo police wrote 42,160 tickets, down from a recent high of 70,846 tickets in 1998. To make this year's goal, crews must pull out their ticket pads at least 1,265 more times.

The tickets aren't cheap. A fine for speeding in a construction zone, for example, can run to $156 with court costs.

The department this year also plans to establish red-light cameras at another 10 intersections.

The cameras, installed in 2001, have meted out 19,884 tickets through Jan. 2, 2003, at the 10 intersections where they are now, said Sgt. Jerry Heer of the police planning office.

Former Chief Gerald Galvin stressed traffic enforcement and held periodic meetings with command officers to track data on citations and accidents.

But priorities have shifted under Mike Navarre, who became chief in 1998, Sergeant Kerschbaum said. “With less manpower and less time, there's been less emphasis on traffic” enforcement, he said.

Chief Navarre could not be reached for comment. Deputy Chief Derrick Diggs, who will oversee the stepped-up enforcement, said regular calls for service take precedence over traffic enforcement, but “safety is always a concern.”

Though some officers expressed concern they'd be disciplined if they did not meet a 3 percent goal, Chief Diggs said that was not part of the directive. Three percent “is not a quota, it's a goal,” he said. Other goals include:

w An increase in drug seizures, liquor violation citations, and truancy pickups.

w A gun buy-back program for citizens.

w A merging of information between Lucas County's sex-offender registry and Toledo police computers.



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