DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. — Channel 2 Action News has learned that many DeKalb County police officers are refusing to write traffic tickets because they’ve had to go without raises and holiday pay.
Their thinking — if they don’t get their money, the county doesn’t get its ticket revenue.
Officers are patrolling the county, but in the last two months, they’ve written nearly 12,000 fewer tickets than this time last year.
Retired Capt. Bill Peacock spent 32 years as a DeKalb officer.
“You have to do what you have to do, and I think that’s what we’re seeing in what the officers are doing today. They’re having a voice,” Peacock said.
They’re also lowering county revenue. Channel 2 Action News and the Atlanta Journal Constitution compared tickets from May, June and July of this year with the 2009 numbers.
In May, the numbers were about the same. But then county leaders approved the budget, slashing raises and holiday pay.
“Cutting the officers’ pay is just unfathomable. No one can understand it,” said Peacock.
The officers are striking back.
Channel 2 investigative reporter Jodie Fleischer scrolled through an online blog where officers have posted messages calling their actions a “ticket strike.”
One officer wrote, “I haven’t written a citation in weeks.”
Another posting suggests officers “just write warnings.”
“I don’t think the enforcement’s being lowered. It may be that they’re just writing warnings, in place of tickets so the revenue is suffering,” said Peacock.
If the average ticket is $150, the 20 percent decline in June and 30 percent decline in July adds up to about $1.7 million in lost revenue for DeKalb County.
DeKalb County spokesman Burke Brennan said, “Any loss of revenue anywhere hurts all of us.” But he added that the county believes that the officers are still doing their jobs.
In a written statement, Police Chief William O’Brien said manpower, call volume or special assignments could be responsible for the ticket decline. He added, “the department continues to enforce traffic offenses in the same manner we always have.”
Peacock doesn’t condone the ticket strike but said he understands.
“It can go on, or we can talk about it and come up with a better solution, and that’s what we’re hoping for.”
Brennan said most of the county’s revenue comes from property taxes, and while $1.7 million is a lot of money, DeKalb County’s shortfall this year was $100 million.
Fleischer asked a police representative whether the chief planned to talk with officers about the ticket strike, but Fleischer didn’t receive a response.
courtesy of wsbtv.com