ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Anchorage’s treasurer has expressed concern over the drop in the number of traffic tickets handed out by city police officers from this year to last year.
Treasurer Dan Moore told the Anchorage Assembly’s budget and finance committee Thursday that traffic tickets fell 15 percent in September, 34 percent in October and 25 percent in November compared to the same periods last year. Those figures are in contrast to the first half of 2015, when traffic ticket volumes were on the rise compared to the previous year, he said.
“It is of concern, we really thought we’d bottomed out (in recent years),” Moore said. “This will affect things for 2016 if it were to continue.”
The police department is expecting a net revenue shortfall of about $941,000 for all types of revenue, Moore said. He also said the police department is the only city department on track to fall short on its revenue projections for next year.
Deputy police chief Garry Gilliam attributed the lower volume of traffic tickets to staffing issues and the demands of training new recruits. He said those factors also played a role in the 50 percent drop in Anchorage traffic tickets since 2009.
But while Moore points to a troubled outlook for the department with the decrease in traffic tickets, Gilliam has made it clear that raising money is not the police department’s focus.
“Contrary to some beliefs, APD does not specifically write citations to generate revenue,” Gilliam said in an email. “The primary purpose for writing citations is to change bad driving behavior in order to make our roads safer.”
Police issued 56,622 tickets in 2009, according to data provided by Moore. That number fell to below half that amount in 2014 to 23,281 tickets. Data shows that police are expecting to write 22,400 tickets in 2015.
The Assembly in November approved an increase in the cost of about 260 types of traffic types, based on a proposal by Mayor Ethan Berkowitz.
In issuing his new budget, Berkowitz noted that the increased fines and fees would help pay for more officers and firefighters. The mayor’s administration also wrote in a memo the revised fines were based on inflation and was meant to promote safer driving.