The city of Kingsland, Georgia has a total area of 44 square miles spanning both sides of I-95, making it the seventh largest city in Georgia by landmass. I-95 runs through the city for 4.5 miles, near mile marker 9. The vast majority of that 4.5 mile span is sparsely populated. For its geographical size, the city is actually quite small. Kingsland only has a population of about 13,600. A large area of the interstate has been incorporated, even though there are not many homes or businesses in the area. Coincidentally, the city encompasses two exits and the 4.5 miles of highway between them.
The police department of Kingsland employs 46 sworn officers, meaning that there are 3.4 officers per 1,000 residents. This is significantly higher than the National average of 2.5 officers per thousand. Twenty five of those officers are assigned to the patrol division, with about 5 officers per shift. Those 25 officers write 13,000 citations per year. The city actually budgets for this. The police may not have a per se quota, but writing into the budget that you need 13,000 citations is a bit of a target number, wouldn't you say? Now let me add that I did not receive a traffic ticket in this area, but I did see something that caused this post:
On that five mile stretch of highway, I saw three Kingsland Police officers with three separate cars pulled over for traffic infractions at 4:30 pm on a Sunday. That is more traffic stops than I saw for the rest of I-95 in Georgia COMBINED. Now I know that this is not proof that the city is padding the coffers with some traffic money, but it seems odd to me that a city with 5 patrol officers per shift, that more than half of the shift is dedicated to writing traffic tickets on a 4 mile stretch of highway. I mean, aren't those 5 officers needed to patrol the 44 square miles of city that they are responsible for? Or is this just a means of revenue enhancement for the city?
According to the City budget, each officer is projected to write 500 citations per year for FY 2010/11, up from 286 in 2008/09 (page 105). This is an average including ALL officers, even the ones with desk jobs. If you recalculate that number using only the 20 patrol officers who are not supervisors (who generally don't write tickets), that average shoots up to 650 per officer. Fines are the second largest source of revenue for the city, comprising 20.7% of the city's general fund revenue (page 69).
Aren't we tired yet of hearing how traffic enforcement is for safety, that there are no quotas, and that the traffic fines we pay are not legalized robbery?