Police report big increase in citations

by nathan oster

Greybull police officers wrote more than twice as many citations in 2011 than they did the previous year, which resulted in a significant increase in revenue flowing into the town’s general fund.

Last year, the GPD wrote a total of 712 citations, most of which were issued for speeding violations.

Not only was that twice as many as the previous year, but it was actually more than the previous two years combined.  In 2010, 331 citations were written. The year before, Greybull police officers handed out 321 citations.

Greybull Police Chief Bill Brenner attributed the increase, at least in part, on the arrival of the town’s fifth police officer, Donna Johnson. “She likes to write tickets,” Brenner said. “But another big factor was our case loads in other areas.”

In 2011, the GPD experienced a 26-percent decrease in case files, made 25 percent fewer drug arrests, 58 percent fewer DUI arrests and 8 percent fewer arrests.

“With those reductions, it gave us more time to focus on running traffic and writing citations,” Brenner said.  Most of them were issued during the summer months, when tourist traffic is at its peak.

The only other category in which an increase was observed was in calls for service. The department fielded 4,274 calls, up from 3,305 the previous year.  On a daily basis, the GPD averaged nearly 12 calls for service in 2011.

What do all these numbers mean?

“To me, I don’t place much of an emphasis on statistics,” Brenner said. “A lot of our job is reactive.  We react to what people do.  If there’s a rash of burglaries, say, 10, that doesn’t mean anything because we may have none then next year.  It just means we had 10 in a given year.”

The police department does not directly benefit from the number of citations that are written.

The money violators pay in fines goes into the town’s general fund.

Town Clerk Kathy Smith and one of her assistants, Kay Mattis, ran the numbers.

The town collected court fine and cost revenues of $95,125 in Fiscal Year 2011, up from the $43,215 collected in Fiscal Year 2010.  However, Smith cautioned that some of those revenues may have been from the prior-year citations or from citations issued more than a year earlier on which the people are making monthly payments.

At a recent meeting of the town council, Bob Graham suggested putting some of the additional revenue generated by the citations into a fund for safety and education to encourage people to slow down.