I will admit Wayne Dolcefino drew my ire years ago with one of his investigative reports that had some annoying consequences for me personally. I’m not going to go into details but it’s been well over a decade ago now and it’s water under the bridge. Anyway, this is 2010, and Wayne’s latest report about the Houston Police Department’s dubious speed traps got my undivided attention for a few minutes yesterday. As a former courier I would frequently see HPD officers, almost certainly including the mentioned and shown “ticket champion” Matt Davis, staked out at the 700 block of North Shepherd, in both directions (as it happens, I made a fair number of my paycheck deposits at the Capital One branch in the area).
The interesting part of the story here is from Victor Trevino, Precinct 6 Constable, who is quoted as saying:
If you’re writing tickets at this location, and we don’t have any complaints from citizens and you don’t have any accidents out here, then what is your logic?
I don’t think anybody in law enforcement or any public official is actually going to admit that [this is about money instead of public safety], but it’s what it would look like to the common-sense person.
It is indeed rare for me to praise a law enforcement officer. However, I applaud Constable Trevino for his efforts to defend the public image of law enforcement in and around the Houston area. It looks bad on not just HPD but every law enforcement agency in the area when these kind of speeding tickets are written for what must be obvious revenue generation as opposed to safety. Like it or not (and believe me, I don’t), the image of the entire city can be affected by what its police officers do.
So this is what I suggest to my readers: If you get a speeding ticket written by Officer Matt Davis, don’t get mad, get even. Plead “not guilty” and set it for trial. Talk to an attorney. If enough people do this instead of quietly pleading guilty and paying up, Officer Davis and HPD will get the message, because there is no way a million dollars’ worth of traffic tickets will ever make it to trial. And that message is that we as a community condemn the practice of traffic tickets for revenue generation.
Wayne’s story includes a link to a Google map showing the ticket hotspots for surface streets and the number of tickets issued. It’s worth a look, especially if you regularly travel the entire city as part of your job as I once did.