Citations drop during election 

click to enlarge Caught: Traffic tickets are expected to increase now that police officers are no longer concerned about the possible passage of Proposition B. - GETTY IMAGES FILE PHOTO
  • Getty Images file photo
  • Caught: Traffic tickets are expected to increase now that police officers are no longer concerned about the possible passage of Proposition B.

Now that the November election is over and the contentious outcome of Proposition B has been decided, motorists in The City’s Ingleside Police District may be noticing a seemingly unrelated side effect: an increase in traffic tickets.

Ingleside District police Capt. Louis Cassanego said that before the election, many of his patrol officers were reluctant to pull over and cite motorists due to concerns that miffed drivers might then vote in favor of Prop. B, the controversial proposal to reform The City’s public pension program.

At the police department’s bi-weekly CompStat meeting on Tuesday, Assistant Police Chief Jeff Godown had asked Cassanego about the Ingleside District’s efforts to increase productivity in traffic stops and fines.

In October, the number of traffic citations issued in the district, which includes the Glen Park, Excelsior and Outer Mission neighborhoods, decreased by 28 percent compared to the same period last year. Total traffic stops in the month dropped by 21 percent, and traffic-related arrests were down 24 percent. Warnings, however, increased by
2 percent.

“Part of it is the Prop. B issue, where officers don’t want to cite citizens before the election on Prop. B,” Cassanego said. “I know that that’s a sensitive issue, but it’s a fact and it’s out there.”

After a few moments of what appeared to be stunned silence, Godown said he “didn’t know how to respond” to Cassanego’s claims.

Godown later told The San Francisco Examiner that he’d never heard of the issue before.

“This is the first I’ve heard about, and I’m going to aggressively look into it,” he said.

Nathan Ballard, spokesman for the anti-Proposition B campaign, said that Cassanego’s assertions were absurd.
“I’ve never heard of anything like that,” Ballard said. “As a matter of fact, I got pulled over two weeks before the election and was written up for texting while driving.”

Public Defender Jeff Adachi, who was the main sponsor of the measure, said he was not surprised by the comment.
“When it comes to protecting city benefits, I guess anything goes,” he said.

November traffic citations in the Ingleside District decreased by 4 percent compared to 2009 numbers.

Prop. B, which would have required The City’s public workers to pay more for their retirement and health benefits, was rejected by nearly 57 percent of San Francisco voters on Nov. 2.

Citations in September were up 17 percent from the same month in 2009.

wreisman@sfexaminer.com

Ticket relief

The October decrease in traffic citations has been attributed to officer concerns about angering voters.

SEPTEMBER OCTOBER NOVEMBER

2009 2010 Diff. 2009 2010 Diff. 2009 2010 Diff.
Traffic Citations 796 929 17% 888 637 -28% 647 622 -4%
Total Stops 1132 1340 18% 1286 1019 -21% 940 935 -1%

Source: SFPD

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Will Reisman

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