Saturday, December 5, 2009

Merry Ticketmas from MCSD

Forty-three seatbelt violations were ticketed by deputies of the McHenry County Sheriff's Department between November 13 and November 29. That ought to create warm fuzzies for lots of McHenry County drivers. Like, for 43 of them.

What does a seatbelt ticket cost these days? $50.00? $75.00? And that's if you don't go to court and fight it. Losing in court will probably cost you another $150-200, thanks to the County Board and the State Legislators.

Six tickets for driving without insurance, one ticket for a child "restraint" violation (I can remember one day when I had to restrain my kid from jumping out of the car!), and one "no valid" (driver's license) ticket.

And, get this, 17 warnings. In 25% of the presumed total number of stops (67), the driver avoided a ticket and fine. Why?

Now, why would any warnings be issued during a "special, grant-funded enforcement" campaign? And who got the warnings?

Giving any warnings during a crackdown (errr, campaign) is a big mistake. There is too much wiggle room for favors to favored groups of drivers. Supervisors, and supervisors of supervisors, should very carefully examine all warnings for the possible improper use of discretion.

Furthermore, how much manpower was utilized in the grant program (and how large was the grant???) that produced only 50 tickets in two weeks? One patrol officer, unburdened by other calls, ought to be able to write 50 tickets in two weeks! And most of those could be for serious traffic violations like speeding, tailgating, failing to stop at stop signs, red light violations. Even making stops for various lights out would likely find drivers with no insurance or no driver's license. A taillight or license plate out? Give a warning, if everything else is in order.

By now, most know my feelings about primary enforcement of seatbelt violations. If education of drivers is the goal, put an electronic sign on the shoulder reading, "Buckle up - now!" How much more pressure will be put on drivers in an effort to increase seatbelt compliance from 93% to 95% to 99%.

By the way, notice the increased amount of free publicity that incumbent Sheriff Nygren is getting in the Northwest Herald? I think readers can expect many more "press releases" in the next two months, and in the nine months between February and November.

I'm just finishing a great book that every person in McHenry County should read and own. The book is It's That Way Everywhere, George, written by George Wells, who was Mayor of Crystal Lake from 1991 to 1995. It doesn't have anything to do with seatbelts, but it sure has a lot to do with politics and the press in Crystal Lake and McHenry County!

If you'd like to buy a few copies for Christmas gifts, contact George at Tell George I sent you, and he might even give you a discount on the purchase of five copies.


Notawannabee said...

You seriously miss the point Gus. Child restraints keep the children much safer during collisions. I personally investigated a very minor traffic crash with virtually no damage to the auto. The lady swerved into the ditch and came to an abrupt stop avoiding another auto. This young woman’s son was unsecured on the front seat. He flew forward, struck the dash, and was killed.
You're like the weather vane. You swing from one thing position to another as the wind blows. With you it’s either too many tickets or not enough. I think you just like to spew some objectionable opinion.

As for the warnings; did you ever consider the WARNINGS were for minor equipment violations?

Why don't you go up and interview Keith Nygren? Since you're the ultimate news blogger, I'm sure he will be more than happy to inform you. I say this knowing that you'd never schedule an appointment to see him. It's much easier to sit back and snipe from behind a computer.


Nygren just lies. Haven't you been keeping up with the latest Dirty Keith news? More lies, more lies more lies. He is really damaging the credibility of the department.


Nygren just lies. Haven't you been keeping up with the latest Dirty Keith news? More lies, more lies more lies. He is really damaging the credibility of the department.

Gus said...

I don't object to ticketing drivers who fail to secure child or infant passengers.

It's the Primary Enforcement nature of seatbelt violations by drivers to which I object. Having said that, I fasten my seatbelt before I start the engine.

A grant is for a special detail, in this case for seatbelt enforcement, according to the NWH article. Letting 25% off with a warning seems too high a percentage.

Frank said...

Like stated above. Are those 25% warnings for other violations other than seatbelts? Do you know or are you just commenting? What is Gus Philpott's stance on if deputy's will enforce seatbelt violations as a primary enforcement violation when he is Sheriff? Take your stance right here Gus...what will be your policy as Sheriff?

Gus said...

As Sheriff I shall find a more effective and more economical way to promote seatbelt use. I won't run seatbelt checks just to scarf up Federal or State grants. Seatbelt tickets will not be used as a large vacuum cleaner to suck money out of drivers' pockets.

How's that?

Notawannabee said...

Gus, you didn't address my original suggestion to interview to Nygren. I bet he would like to speak with you directly. Your jaded opinions come from listening to malcontents like Zane. You may have your eyes opened by a face to face conversation with someone who has actually had to make these decisions. Decisions that ultimately are arm chair quarterbacked by you and regaled in your blog. I suggest that you’re afraid of how open and receptive Nygren may actually be and may say yes, come on up and sit down with me. I’ve know the man for many years and yes he can be a hard ass, but he is an intelligent hard ass. He does know his job and he does have the good of the public at heart.

That being said, contrary to you assertion, traffic enforcement is not aimed toward revenue. I will agree that there are likely “SOME” small towns may see tickets as a revenue source to finance their departments, but why not do some homework. Check with the County clerk and see where the Sheriff Traffic fines are actually distributed. You'll discover that much actually goes to the courts and townships. In the grand scheme of things, the County doesn't gain much at all. The Sheriff’s Department has never been motivated or guided by the quest for traffic revenue.

These grant programs help police departments reduce traffic crashes and ultimately traffic injuries. Why shouldn’t the Sheriff avail the county to the grant monies available? It fits the goals of the agency and ultimately the safety of the public. Seat belt enforcement is actually quite altruistic by design. The goals and objectives have the general welfare of the public as its primary goal. All grant programs have a goal which must be in some fashion measurable. X reduction in accidents; X reduction in fatalities; X reduction of traffic related injuries. Without enforcement there would never be an accomplishment. Do you think writing tickets is just a way to inconvenience the public? No, it is all part of a program to reduce injuries.

Many people won't obey laws unless there is a risk of being caught. For instance radar enforcement keeps the general public safe from those that think speed limits are not suitable to their own driving style or habits. The same goes with wearing seat belts. People often express that there is some violation of “my constitutional rights”. Driving is not a constitutional right. The courts have ruled time and time again that driving is a privilege, not a right.

You openly admit that you wear your seat belt however object to enforcement, why? Seat belts have been shown to save lives. Fewer injuries equates to reduced insurance costs. These reductions incurred by forced compliance of people that feel it is a government intrusion, ultimately helps us all.

Enforcement programs such as the seat belt enforcement checks are one way to gain compliance. The Federal Government requires States to meet compliance goals and Federal highway funds are tied to compliance criteria.

Stating that you would not avail yourself of these funds (if Sheriff) for enforcement is foolish. Enforcement is one of the primary tools that law enforcement has to reduce traffic injuries. It is one of the three E's (Engineering, Education & Enforcement)

I reiterate my first comment.” You miss the point."

Gus said...

Thanks for your well-written comment. I agree that the sheriff's department (and most police departments) cannot benefit "directly" from the revenue generated from traffic fines and court costs, and that is how it should be.

But now I'm thinking again about the HUGE income to McHenry County and the State of Illinois from court costs and fines that are collected. What percent of it does return to the agency issuing the ticket? Any of it? Perhaps it's time for a FOIA request to McHenry County to learn, and publish, just how much is wrenched from the pocketbooks of those who are convicted.

When a driver is convicted and fined $25-50, but it costs him $250 to leave the courthouse, there is something inherently unfair going on.