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LAPD cracks down on ranks for dropped tickets

September 20, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
It just got more difficult to contest a traffic ticket in the city of Los Angeles. And you might be surprised to learn that police officers are not happy about it either.The Los Angeles Police Department writes hundreds of thousands of tickets every year. When they get contested, it could take months before they get to a courtroom. During that time some officers may forget details about the incident, and when that happens they will tell the judge they can't remember the case, and the judge will often dismiss it.

But now the Los Angeles Police Protective League (LAPPL) police union is complaining that the LAPD is pressuring its officers to push forward with the case even if they can't remember the details.

For most people getting a ticket is hard to forget. But for officers who write dozens of tickets a week, it can be quite easy to forget.

"Trying to remember stuff many months later, especially on something that is not significant, is very difficult," said LAPPL President Paul Weber.

Weber and members of the police union are upset because of a memo sent by high-ranking police officials threatening disciplinary action if a citation is dismissed because an officer forgets details about it.

"We're not talking about a murder case, we're talking about a citation," said Weber. "One of maybe dozens that you wrote during that particular week and months later you are being asked to remember."

LAPD officials failed to respond to Eyewitness News requests for an interview before deadline Monday.

Outside one of L.A.'s traffic courts, a long line of people wrapped around the building, many of whom say revenue may be the reason for LAPD's memory-improvement memo.

"It's a $670 ticket for not wearing a seatbelt. That's kind of ridiculous," said El Monte resident Alfonso Viramontes.

"The city is looking for more ways to try to get more money, just like all the other departments. So I wouldn't doubt if that was one of the ways," said Carson resident Ernest Garrett.

Paul Weber wouldn't speculate on the reasons for the memo, but says his officers aren't interested in fundraising for the city.

"It should never be a money issue," said Weber. "The reason we issue citations is for public safety, and that should be the only motivation."

Weber suggested the police department may have to offer more training to officers on how to take more detailed notes. He says he plans to meet with LAPD officials later this week to discuss the implications of that memo.


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