In his presentation of the 2017 Police Department Summary Report to the city commission, McPherson Police Chief Robert McClarty shared that officers issued 2,151 citations for 2,681 traffic offenses.
Those totals are almost doubled from 2016, which saw 1,057 citations issued for 1,378 traffic offenses. McClarty attributed the increase in citations to an officer shortage experienced in 2016 and the hiring of additional officers in 2017.
"Our officers stop vehicles, based on probable cause, for a wide variety of traffic ordinance (or) law violations," said Executive Sgt. Mark Brinck, public information officer for the McPherson Police Department.
Those violations can include exceeding the speed limit, failing to obey traffic signs and control devices, failure to signal, illegal display or having defective equipment.
"Main throughways, school zones and the downtown area have increased volumes of traffic, depending on the time of day and day of the week," Brinck noted. "During times of increased traffic volume in these areas, more traffic violations are likely to occur."
Brinck said that the amount of fines issued was not a factor, and had no bearing on the agency or its officers.
"Our officers enforce traffic ordinances/laws to increase safety in our community, educate drivers and reduce violations," Brinck said.
Being stopped and ticketed for a traffic violation is an effective deterrent for some.
"Tickets are a punishment for our actions," said Canton resident Briana Lance. "Years back, I was ticketed for speeding and because of that ticket, I no longer speed."
Lance views the rise in ticket totals as a positive for McPherson.
"If an increase in tickets causes the good effect of law-abiding citizens, then yes, it is a very good thing," Lance said.
Some are more skeptical of the motivations behind ticketing.
"We ask mature people to take responsibility for actions or lack of them," said Lindsborg resident Irene Nielsen. "The question remains, is the increase due to hyper-vigilance or malfeasance in efforts to entrap citizens?"
Nielsen said those receiving tickets to put themselves in the officer's shoes to determine the legitimacy of the citation.
"If roles were reversed and you were responsible for community safety would you have issued a similar ticket? Do warnings work as well? Is there an ego thrill in intimidating others or are our safety officers just doing their jobs," Nielsen questioned.
Still, Nielsen agrees that traffic tickets can have far-reaching effects, and is appreciative of those who issue them.
"Receiving a ticket for a violation you know you did is economically painful and embarrassing, but the action may have saved your life or that of another," Nielsen said. "We monitor the office of public safety to address unfair racism and prejudices, but the officers who do their jobs respectfully are to be commended."