State police begin issuing computer-generated traffic citations

 Pennsylvania
State Police now are using computer technology to issue electronic traffic citations,
a step that Commissioner Frank E. Pawlowski today said makes troopers more
efficient and safer.

“The
system cuts in half the amount of time a trooper needs to issue a citation,
allowing the officer to get back on the road more quickly to resume patrol
duties,” Pawlowski said. “In addition, troopers no longer have to spend time transporting
the citations to the local magisterial district judge; the citation information
is transmitted electronically.”

Pawlowski
said the system enhances officer safety by reducing the time troopers remain in
exposed and potentially dangerous situations along roadways while issuing
citations.

“Troopers
are at increased risk whenever they are out of their patrol vehicles to issue a
citation,” he said.

Pawlowski
said the new computer-generated traffic citations will be printed on legal-size
thermal paper, which, he said, will help to eliminate any confusion that may
have resulted from the handwritten, carbon copy forms used in the past.

The
electronic citation system is part of the Pennsylvania State Police TraCS
project, which stands for Traffic and Criminal Software. As part of the
project, state police earlier developed computerized crash reports that are
submitted to PennDOT.

Pawlowski
said the department tested the citation system using pilot programs in several
state police troop areas late last year.

“Feedback
from the field has been positive,” he said. “We estimate that this system could
cut by half the 15 minutes typically required to issue a citation in the past.”

Pawlowski
noted that when a driver’s license and registration information is entered into
a patrol vehicle’s computer, state and national databases are automatically
checked to determine whether outstanding warrants exist for the driver or
whether the vehicle has been reported stolen. The driver’s license and
registration data from the records check can then be automatically inserted
into the traffic citation form.

As
an added efficiency, the system sends the citation information electronically
through the Pennsylvania Justice Network, or JNET, to the Administrative Office
of the Pennsylvania Courts, which relays it to magisterial district justices. The
information is sent directly from the system to the Philadelphia Traffic Court
in appropriate cases.

In
the future, Pawlowski said state police commanders can use the data to develop specific
local enforcement programs.

“This
is a valuable tool for targeting traffic law violators and making our roads
safer for everyone,” Pawlowski said.

Pawlowski
said the TraCS system was implemented by state police late last week in all
counties except Westmoreland County, where an update of a computer system used
by magisterial district judges is taking place. The TraCS system will be used in
Westmoreland County starting on Feb. 1.

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