City Government

Coppers Oppose Tickets As Fund Raiser

The GUARDIAN has inadvertently stirred up a hornet’s nest with the publication of Top Copper Mike Masterson’s cost containment memo.

The local news channels jumped on the GUARDIAN story and the police union has come out in strong opposition to Masterson’s cost containment strategy–especially as it relates to ticket writing.

We pretty much agreed with everything but the line item of writing more tickets to raise $89,000 as part of a plan to meet a $1.2 million budget deficit. Masterson was clear in his memo–and in an interview with the GUARDIAN–that with fewer “calls for service” the coppers can devote more effort to traffic enforcement, regardless of their primary assignment. Of course one benefit to more tickets is more fine money.

Here is the complete text of the police union memo:

“It is the express wish of the members of the Boise Police Union to clarify our position on a “cost containment strategy” that was recently proposed by Boise Police Chief, Michael Masterson. The Boise Police Union adamantly opposes the use of traffic enforcement as a strategy for creating revenue.

The Union understands that the police are part of the public and not separate from those that we serve. We also understand that many, if not all, of the citizens that we serve are undergoing some form of economic hardship or stress at this time. We absolutely will not agree to a strategy of “cost containment” that passes along more of an economic burden to our citizens, especially at a time of economic distress.

The Union fundamentally believes that even in good economic times that traffic enforcement should never be used for the purpose of revenue generation. Policing is not about, and should never be used for revenue generation, as we are charged with serving the public, not taxing them.

While receiving a traffic citation is unpopular with everyone, it is a form of service that can reduce traffic fatalities and improve driving behavior. The use of traffic enforcement for these reasons is appropriate and makes the streets safer for all of us. Fines and penalties are meant to be the deterrent to stop driving behavior, and not a reward for the entity issuing the citations. It is obvious how the latter could contribute to the perception of corruption, and it should be our mission to fight that perception at all times.

The Union also recognizes that while the police are part of the community that they serve, the relationship between the public and the police is one that needs constant attention to be maintained. The Union believes that the proposed “cost containment strategy” will only serve to deteriorate that relationship, which would ultimately serve to erode the quality of life in our wonderful community.

The mission statement of the Boise Police Department is to “enhance public safety through proactive problem solving and increased community partnerships.” We believe that this “cost containment strategy” flies in the face of our fundamental mission and places the burden of our budget shortfalls on the taxpayer’s shoulders. The Union believes that we should enhance our “partnerships” with the community by bearing the brunt of this economic cycle appropriately, just as we expect our citizens to do. Therefore, we adamantly oppose the “cost containment strategy” proposed by Chief Masterson.

Comments & Discussion

Comments are closed for this post.

  1. Tom Anderson
    Feb 11, 2009, 11:36 am

    I’d ask the Boise Police Department to PLEASE write more tickets for LOUD MOTORCYCLES.

    I went downtown last Saturday, and it was fairly nice out. Dry streets and warmer temperatures bring out the lawyers riding their LOUD MOTORCYCLES that scare the bejesus out of children, old folks, and pets.

    Why is there a plague of LOUD MOTORCYCLES in Boise? Are the cops intentionally ignoring this problem? My personal feeling is that since Veterans groups are strongly associated with LOUD MOTORCYCLES, and cops are heavily represented with Vets, that cops are allowing this class of lawbreaker to be above the law.

    I would much rather see these LOUD MOTORCYCLES removed from Boise than almost any other traffic function. I avoid downtown Boise because I hate being assaulted by LOUD MOTORCYCLES on a constant basis. The tall buildings make the echoing of the no-muffler machines intolerable, but they have no place ANYWHERE in Boise, or the Treasure Valley for that matter.

  2. The Union pulled through, I like their response a lot.

    “Policing is not about, and should never be used for revenue generation, as we are charged with serving the public, not taxing them.”

    Let’s oust Masterson and put whoever wrote that line in charge.

  3. Loud motorcycles, Tom? Downtown? They MUST’ve been loud, if you heard ’em over those 10,000-watt rolling Ghetto Blasters that the kids drive around in!

    (Seriously, I agree with you on the motorcycles. I ride a motorcycle, and the loud ones foster a lot of resentment toward motorcyclists in general. Sadly.)

    I’d say a few violations even take precedence over the loud bikes, however. People blastin’ thru red lights would be at the top of MY list. Give ’em all a $500 ticket, and I hope it provides revenue! I’d even be in favor of traffic cameras to catch red-light runners, if it resulted in fewer of them. Talk about dangerous!

    Also, be sure to write out tickets to children of city council members, who park illegally in our beautiful public parks.

    (For years, Jordan Valley has funded local government thru traffic tickets. We might as well get on the bandwagon! /sarcasm)

  4. Say it Aint So, Chief
    Feb 11, 2009, 1:19 pm

    I’m sure the chief will deny it, but there have been big increase in city police cruisers on Warm Springs extension and Gowen Road east of Federal Way in the last week or two. Not many city residents out there. Some of the roadway isn’t even in the city limits. However, it is a great place to ticket Boise County residents speeding to work downtown.

  5. Traffic enforcement in Boise is a joke and if it will be improved by asking all officers to write traffic tickets.. regardless of their primary duties, I am all for it.

  6. Rod in SE Boise
    Feb 11, 2009, 2:21 pm

    Additional enforcement IS needed to stop those red light runners. That should be their top traffic enforcement priority, instead of speeding. Red light running is much more dangerous, IMO.

  7. Rod, traffic enforcement is fine. But as the Union stated, it should never be about generating revenue.

  8. Chief Masterson is stuck between a rock-and-a-hard-place. And he was placed there by a City Council apparently unwilling to fund our police properly.

    I do not envy the Chief his job.

    And kudos to the union!

  9. devil's advocate
    Feb 11, 2009, 7:50 pm

    off-topic, and I’m not a motorcycle rider, but i have been told that LOUD pipes save lives, in that louder pipes alert other drivers of their presence, as motorcycles have a smaller visual profile and often are sidewiped by vehicles changing lanes without noticing a smaller two-wheel vehicle.

  10. From the article: “The Boise Police Union adamantly opposes the use of traffic enforcement as a strategy for creating revenue.” My question is: Isn’t that the “probable cause” for pulling a DUI driver over, that they violated a traffic law?
    Or, are they just pulling people over randomly?

  11. Devil’s Advocate is right on the money.

    Pull your clutch, twist the throttle, and Vance & Hines will deliver a spatial orientation to even the most oblivious motorist – toute suite!

  12. Cathy,
    Those are two different issues. Yes – traffic infractions are used to make stops which ultimately culminate in a DUI. However, the ultimate purpose is to get a drunk off the road.

    The purpose of routine traffic enforcement is to reduce injuries and property damage by modifying behavior. This is done by 1. Education 2. Enforcement. Nowhere in their training is a police officer taught to generate revenue. The meaning of the Union’s memo was/is to assure the public that the police will do the right thing for the right reason. I.e. they will not increase the number of citations written just to fill the city’s coffers.

  13. Tom Anderson
    Feb 12, 2009, 3:23 pm

    Devil’s advocate / Murphy: There are many myths propagated by folks who want to do something that might be anti-social, unsafe, illegal, or just plain stupid. A careful look at both sides of any issue will reveal these myths for what they are.

    As a 35 year motorcycle rider/commuter, I can assure you that there are many ways to be safe on two wheels, but putting illegal offstreet only pipes on a motorcycle is a pretty far reach. By this fouled logic, we should equip every pedestrian and bicyclist with a 110 decible noisemaker that is on all the time.

    I’d think these obnoxious LOUD MOTORCYCLE riders would face a greater threat of getting pulled off their weekend toy by an outraged upstanding citizen and being beaten to death, than being saved from an accident.

  14. Amen, Tom! (Regarding the LOUD PIPES SAVE LIVES old wives’ tale.)

    If such were the truth, wouldn’t BMW and Gold Wing riders be dying in a much larger proportion than the bikes ridden by the “One Percenters,” and the posers who pretend to be “One Percenters”? I’m guessing just the opposite is true, per mile driven.

  15. Tom Anderson
    Feb 13, 2009, 8:05 pm

    Studies have shown that new, inexperienced riders are more likely to:
    -have a higher number of accidents
    -not use helmets
    -not have insurance

    As a police officer, you learn that the bikes dropped in accidents are mostly modified race bikes or LOUD MOTORCYCLE cruisers. The people who are into the ‘excitement’ factor of motorcycles are just dead meat looking for a place to go splat.

  16. Serendipity
    Feb 19, 2009, 8:15 pm

    I saw two coppers on motos this evening pulling over scofflaw drivers. Rayyyyy.
    Way t’ go. One stopped a guy after he dived in front of someone close enough to get hit by the other car and cause an accident. I also noticed this evening around 4pm that traffic was moving– shall we say–decorously.

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