I-TEAM: Investigating push for traffic tickets in local suburb

SOUTH EUCLID, Ohio -- The FOX 8 I-TEAM is asking questions about the number of traffic tickets issued and drivers arrested in another local suburb after obtaining an internal memo.

We went to the police chief in South Euclid after reviewing a memo sent from a supervisor to patrol officers on his shift. The memo calls for an increase in impaired driving arrests. It refers to the number of tickets written monthly and refers to tickets issued over the course of the year from radar enforcement in school zones.

Just weeks ago, we investigated traffic cases in Independence.

This time, we asked the South Euclid chief how much of this involves enforcement and how much of it involves keeping up the numbers?

Chief Kevin Nietert sat down with us and explained. He said the memo was not aimed at bringing in more fines, but instead at making sure officers do their jobs and target safety problems and dangerous drivers.

Nietert said, "The city, through residents who are supporting the police department with their taxes, expects that officers are going to be doing something when they're working."

He said he wants traffic enforcement aimed at preventing crashes.

Nietert added, "Would I be better served to have my officers go out to a side street and do some side street enforcement of speeding that might prevent a fatality of a child?”

The I-TEAM also recently revealed internal police memos in Independence sparking debate about the numbers of traffic tickets there.

Meantime, in Cleveland, a police union official said city patrol officers, at times, have been given targets for tickets, but not hard quotas.

Drivers we met told us they like the traffic enforcement as long as police don’t feel pressured to simply keep up statistics.

One mother told us, "I see people flying through school zones."

Another driver supported going after dangerous drivers, but she added, "You don't want to have false positives or go 'looking' for things that may not really be a problem.”

In short, the South Euclid chief said he wants his officers ticketing and arresting the drivers who deserve it. He said setting targets for numbers helps make sure officers are addressing problems on the streets, but he also said, that’s not the only way police are looking at what’s being done.

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