INDIANAPOLIS - Indianapolis police are issuing fewer traffic tickets, slicing revenue by millions, while the numbers of crashes, injuries and fatalities are on the rise, statistics show.
Faced with dwindling ranks, the department has gutted specialty units, including the traffic branch, moving officers into patrol positions in high-crime neighborhoods instead, RTV6's Jack Rinehart reported.
According to traffic court records, Indianapolis officers issued nearly 18,500 fewer tickets over the past two years, down from 74,784 in January to June of 2010 to 56,387 the same time period this year.
The decline has resulted in a loss of revenue of $2.75 million, statistics show.
"I think you should continue to follow the traffic laws and drive safely, but understand it's probably not as likely that you're going to get a ticket as it was two years ago," said Judge William Young with the Marion County Traffic Court.
The numbers of crashes, injuries and fatalities have gone up so far this year, according to statistics from the Marion County Traffic Safety Partnership.
Between January and September of 2011, there were 18,831 crashes, 4,842 injuries and 64 deaths. Over the same period this year, there have been 19,637 crashes, 5,387 injuries and 72 deaths.
"We are killing a lot of individuals and injuring a lot of individuals on the roadways, and we do need to still do traffic enforcement," said Don Bickel with the Marion County Traffic Safety Partnership.
Indianapolis police staffing levels have fallen to more than 200 officers below authorized strength, and the department projects another 60 retirements over the next two years, with no plans to hire additional officers.
"Sooner or later, we're going to reach a very serious tipping point where it's dangerous for the officers, dangerous for the officers' families because they get to see their loved ones leave every day, and it's going to be dangerous for the citizens," said Sgt. Bill Owensby with the local Fraternal Order of Police union.
Despite moving traffic officers and other specialty positions to crime fighting, statistics show violent crime is up more than 9 percent so far this year, while property crime is up more than 3 percent.