New traffic law likely to have no effect

By Charles Sercombe

Just as the city is scrambling to find more sources of money, a new state law is threatening to shut down a major revenue stream.

Recently, state legislators passed a law that forbids punishing police officers for not issuing enough traffic tickets. Many police departments have what’s commonly called a quota system where officers have to write a certain number of tickets per shift.

In an effort to save jobs in Hamtramck’s Police Department, officers have promised to issue at least $60,000 a month in traffic tickets. Officers are allowed to work overtime to enforce traffic laws. The department brings in about $1 million a year from the program.

Sources in the department say officers working traffic patrol are expected to write at least two tickets per hour.

There is already a law on the books that technically could shut down traffic enforcement. The law, Act 85, requires cities to conduct traffic studies to determine what the speed limit should be for every street.

Hamtramck has not conducted such a study, which city officials say the city can’t afford to do.

The only thing holding back the new law regarding the quota system is a signature from Gov. Jennifer Granholm. Well, there is actually one other thing holding back the law from going into effect: communities that choose to ignore the new law.

Just like they ignored the law requiring a traffic study.

It’s no secret that many communities are struggling financially. One of the easiest ways for cities to raise money is to go after drivers. And one of the easiest of easy ways to raise money is to create speed traps.

Hamtramck has several speed traps – most notably the I-75 service drive, where at one point the street dips down steeply. Waiting right at the rise of the dip is a traffic enforcement officer.

Hamtramck is also hurting bad when it comes to finances. The city is facing a $3.3 million budget deficit by the end of January. You can read all about Hamtramck’s financial troubles elsewhere in this paper.

As far as Hamtramck giving up an aggressive traffic enforcement … we’ve got some swamp land on the city’s east side to sell you.

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