Valley Center police institute minimum traffic ticket requirement

By: Jason Tarr Email
By: Jason Tarr Email

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VALLEY CENTER, Kan. -- Police officers in Valley Center are now required to hand out a minimum number of traffic tickets each month.

Police Chief Mark Hephner says officers are required to give out one ticket for every shift and a half (15 hours) they work. That equates to about 10 tickets per officer per month. With nine officers on staff, that means a minimum of about 90 tickets.

"It's not a quota. They are minimum performance standards. it's about being responsible to the community," Hephner said.

Hephner says the officers developed the minimum requirements themselves at a department meeting late last year.

He says the ticket requirement has nothing to do with bringing in more money. He says the city staff has not put any pressure on him to increase revenue.

He says the requirement is about keeping his officers accountable, both to their job and the community.

It's something many drivers in Valley Center say they can get behind.

"I think holding them accountable to do their job is something we as citizens need to do as well," Brenda McKenney said.

McKenney says she drives through Valley Center all the time and is used to seeing people speeding, especially on the way out of town. She says she's glad to see the officers taking action.

"If it gives them more initiative to do something about it and pull (people) over and warn them or give them a ticket, I don't think that's a bad thing," McKenney said.

But for every driver like Brenda McKenney who spoke to KAKE News Friday and said they didn't mind the requirement, there were at least two others who said they did.

"I don't think it's good at all because people will probably get in trouble for little things that they usually wouldn't get in trouble for just so (the police) can meet their quota," said Sarah Roe, who frequently visits family in Valley Center.

David Ortiz, 18, says many people in town are buzzing about the new requirement. He says he and his friends don't like it.

"They shouldn't have to have a quota," Ortiz said. "They should be doing that regardless because it's their job to do the best that they can to protect and serve everyone here."

But no matter a driver's stance on the requirement, almost all of them agree the minimum ticket standards will cause many people to change their driving habits.

"I think they are going to slow down," McKenney said.

Hephner says already there has been an increase in the number of tickets issued in the past couple months but he says it's not entirely due to the relatively new minimum ticket requirement. He says the department has hired more officers so there are more officers patrolling the streets. The department also just recently finished with the Click It or Ticket Program that is funded by the state.

His hope is that the minimum ticket requirement will continue to make the community safer.

"Anybody that has a job, they want to know what the expectations are from their job," Hephner said. "I think it's more fair to the community to have officers doing their job."

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