Looking Beyond The Ticket - Traffic Law Enforcement And Beyond

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration


Table of Contents

Looking Beyond the Ticket: Traffic Law Enforcement and Beyond




Crime/Crash Clock 1996

The Facts


Elements of Success







The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration expresses appreciation to the following law enforcement agencies whose contributions made this manual possible:

Illinois State Police:
Director Terrance W. Gainer
Master Sergeant Deborah L. Meisinger

  • Albany Police Department, New York
  • Arizona Department of Public Safety
  • Arkansas State Police
  • Baltimore Police Department, Maryland
  • Calhoun County Sheriff's Department, Michigan
  • California Highway Patrol
  • Collinsville Police Department, Illinois
  • Doņa Ana County Sheriff's Department, New Mexico
  • Downers Grove Police Department, Illinois
  • East Valley DUI Task Force, Arizona
  • Elko Police Department, Nevada
  • Fairfax County Police Department, Virginia
  • Fauquier County Sheriff's Department, Virginia
  • Florida Highway Patrol
  • Fort Meade Police Department, Florida
  • Greenville Police Department, Illinois
  • Idaho State Police
  • Indiana State Police
  • International Association of Chiefs of Police
  • Kansas Highway Patrol
  • Laguna Vista Police Department, Texas
  • Lenexa Police Department, Kansas
  • Lincoln Charter Township Police Department, Michigan
  • Lincoln Police Department, Massachusetts
  • Madison Police Department, Wisconsin
  • Massachusetts State Police
  • Michigan State Police
  • Missouri State Highway Patrol
  • National Sheriffs Association
  • Nebraska Highway Patrol
  • North Brunswick Police Department, New Jersey
  • North Little Rock Police Department, Arkansas
  • Ohio Highway Patrol
  • Oregon State Police
  • Peoria Police Department, Illinois
  • Plainsboro Township Police Department, New Jersey
  • Prairie Village Police Department, Kansas
  • Rhode Island State Police
  • San Francisco Police Department, California
  • Temple Police Department, Texas
  • Texas Department of Public Safety
  • Washington State Patrol
  • West Virginia State Police
  • Wyoming Police Department, Michigan

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration also expresses appreciation to the state highway safety agencies whose contributions were invaluable and to the Northwestern University Traffic Institute.


Traffic law enforcement has recently entered a "renaissance" era as law enforcement anticipates its transition to the 21st century. Some law enforcement administrators are rediscovering the benefits of proactive traffic enforcement. These administrators realize that patrol officers, who routinely "look beyond the ticket" make a significant number of criminal arrests and contribute to their agency's community policing efforts.


In the July 1996 issue of the International Association of Chiefs of Police magazine, The Police Chief, Earl Sweeney, Chairman of the Highway Safety Advisory Committee and Director of the New Hampshire Police Standards and Training Council said, "Now, savvy police administrators have rediscovered the value of traffic enforcement. They see it not as simply an end in itself, but also as a valuable tool - a means to an end and an integral part of both criminal interdiction and community policing."

An October 12, 1996, Baltimore Sun article quotes Maryland State Police official Debbie Price, "In a neighborhood beset by drive-by shootings, open air drug dealing and violence of every stripe, writing traffic tickets hardly seems the stuff of high-stakes crime fighting. But, in fact, it is one of law enforcement's oldest tools and one that is gaining popularity as agencies look for new ways to tackle pernicious drug and gun violence."

What is "looking beyond the ticket"?

"Looking beyond the ticket" is a strategy to encourage officers to think about each traffic stop as a new opportunity to not only make the roads and streets safer but possibly to discover a more serious traffic offense or a criminal activity. This strategy helps overcome the bias that traffic enforcement is routine. It is also a method to assist patrol officers to think and look "outside-the-box," and make the most of limited resources. For example, when dispatched to investigate a hole in the road, officers expect to find a hole. When stopping a driver for passing a red light (with the exception of being alert for life threatening conditions), officers expect to write a citation for passing a red light, not make an arrest for forgery. In short, officers see, but frequently do not observe.

Looking Beyond The Ticket: Traffic Law Enforcement and Beyond was written by a law enforcement officer, for law enforcement officers, and documents how deputies and patrol officers are "looking beyond the ticket" to make criminal apprehensions and reduce crime. It is intended to stimulate discussions within the law enforcement community about how to market the benefits of traffic law enforcement.



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Contents | Looking Beyond the Ticket: Traffic Law Enforcement and Beyond | Benefits |  Challenges |  Perceptions | Crime/Crash Clock 1996 |  The Facts | Education | Elements of Success | References