Cuyahoga Falls Police Capt. Jack Davis remembers when he joined the force in the 1980s, the Falls had a reputation as a strict enforcer of speed limits.
“When I first started here, we were Ticket City,” Davis said. “I mean that was the reputation when I grew up here, and that was the reputation when I first started here, and we had kind of gotten away from that. I don’t say that we’re Ticket City again, but one of the things that we definitely wanted to do was increase our traffic (enforcement).”
So far in 2011, as of June 30, Cuyahoga Falls police have issued 3,886 tickets that are being processed by the Mayor’s Court. More serious charges, including drunken driving and stolen vehicles, are processed in the Stow Municipal Court. Those numbers were not immediately available. By this time in 2010, 2,278 tickets had been issued for speeding and other relatively minor moving violations. For all of 2010, Cuyahoga Falls police issued 4,707 tickets.
In 2009, Falls police issued 1,868 ticket in first six months and 4,025 for the year, Davis said. The police department does not track dollar amounts for the tickets, which are determined by the courts.
“Last year … one thing we noticed is we weren’t writing nearly as many traffic tickets as we used to. By the same token, we were seeing increases in other crime areas,” Davis said.
“We asked myself and (current Chief Thomas) Pozza – we’ve been here 20-some years and we know the way things used to be in the Falls and the way things are getting in the Falls. And part of the problem, or at least one of the things we looked at, was we were not enforcing traffic nearly as much.”
Davis believes the traffic enforcement will have a chilling effect on more serious crime as well.
“I can give you an example. A guy stopped a car for a traffic violation, and we end up getting a stolen car out of it. If he didn’t take the time to make that traffic stop, we never would have had the stolen car. The plate wasn’t even reported stolen yet. The officer did a great job of doing some investigation," Davis said.
"We’re also finding we find more drugs, we find more warrants, and realistically you want the bad people to think, ‘I don’t want to drive in Cuyahoga Falls because I’m gonna get pulled over and, you know, finding I don’t have a license, I have a warrant.’
“One of the No. 1 complaints I get as a patrol captain here is, 'I’ve got speeders on my street, there’s speeders on the freeway,’ so the traffic enforcement is also a mandate from our citizens,” Davis said.
Davis said the bump in revenue for the city is not the driving force behind the stepped up traffic enforcement.
“It’s really not. I mean, that’s not our bag. We’re in it to try to keep safety in the city.”