A reader of the marginally illustrious Wake Forest News sent in a statement recently that I’ve heard more than once. So I took this opportunity to give you the inside scoop nobody wants you to know.
The reader said:
“Someone should report on the fact that the Wake Forest town government has no clue on how to manage a municipality and has long relied on 24x7x365 traffic stops over minuscule infractions to fund someone’s coffers. I’m going to look into leasing a big billboard to warn people about the town’s inept management and over-policing.”
I have a lot of “well, actually…” people in my life. You know these folks. They are the ones that believe everything on Facebook or one source of information. They start by repeating things they saw on Facebook as truth. Things like the Wake Forest Walmart makes people lose their Christian values and shoplift and they can prove it because a lot of shoplifters are caught there. Well, actually…
Assumptions always are only part of the perceived truth. And ironically, the intended outrage of leasing a big billboard, as the reader suggested, would probably assist the police to get people to slow down so there’s that.
In the interest of openness and admission, I should disclose I know many officers on the Wake Forest Police team. I’ve had an opportunity to see them up close doing their jobs. Including traffic enforcement officers.
When you get pulled over you are not guaranteed to get a ticket. Sometimes people are courteous and rational and get a warning or an educational moment. Sometimes people who get pulled over are lippy, rude, nasty, and ask for a ticket. Yes, actually ask for the ticket so they can “get the hell on my way.” Sometimes people get pulled over and have open warrants, open alcohol, illegal drugs, etc.
If you are the mom who gets pulled over for doing 55 MPH in a 35 MPH school zone because Johnny was late to school and you have a meeting at work coming up quickly, you can easily become outraged the Wake Forest Police Department is perceived to be “picking on you.” I get it. That’s human nature.
But I feel a need to state the obvious here. If you don’t want to get pulled over there are three things you can do.
1. Make a real effort to obey the traffic laws.
2. Don’t have a legal open issue linked to your license plate.
3. Avoid things like looking like you are operating under the influence, acting suspicious, or road rage.
Everything You Need to Know About Dealing With the Wake Forest Police on a Traffic Stop, You Learned in First Grade
If you want the best chance of not getting a ticket after you get pulled over there are simple things you can do to increase your odds.
1. Don’t be a jerk. Yelling, screaming, namecalling, and insults might make you feel better but they are not helping you. Don’t ask for a timeout. The adult version of a note sent home to your parents by your teacher is a traffic ticket.
2. If you understand what you did wrong and you realize you made a mistake, admit it. Give answers, not excuses.
3. Comply with the officer requests in a polite and professional manner. The goal is to get you on your way and not solve world hunger.
Wake Forest Police don’t get any joy out of pulling people over when it is 100 degrees out with their dark uniforms and hot vests on. All that nasty sweat has to run somewhere. And there is no comfort into possibly walking into a situation with an irrational person or a violent conflict with a motorist. It happens.
As much as you are not looking forward to getting pulled over, the police officers are not looking forward to doing it. But what they are doing is their job and their job is to do their best to protect us and keep us safe.
Let’s Pretend Facts Matter
Rather than read my take on this and all the blah, blah, blah you just discounted, I reached out to the Town to give us all some facts on this issue. Here is what Bill Crabtree, master communicator for Wake Forest, said.
“At the risk of disappointing those who would rather not let the truth get in the way of a good story – the claim just ain’t so. For those who have made up their minds and prefer not to be confused with facts, the following information will be of little value. For everyone else, you may be interested to know that every $190 speeding ticket is apportioned in the following manner:
State General Fund $146.55
State Bar Legal Aid Account $0.95
Facilities Fee $12.00
Phone System Fee $4.00
Law Enforcement Officer Retirement Fund $7.50
Law Enforcement Officer Training & Certification Fee $2.00
Chapter 20 Fee (for driving-related offenses) $10.00
Service Fee to Agency: $5.00
DNA Fee $2.00
So, for every $190 ticket issued, the Town gets $5. Last year, that amounted to around $16,000 or .0004% of the Town’s total annual revenue.
Thus, there’s no conspiracy, no ulterior motive and certainly no get rich scheme motivating the Police Department to write tickets. Instead, it’s simply one of the ways they work to keep us safe. Simply stated, traffic enforcement is the most visible and obvious sign of an active and efficient police force whose efforts are needed now more than ever. Look no further than Capital Boulevard/US 1 where drivers traveling in a 55-mph zone are regularly ticketed for speeds between 80 and 100 mph.
Drunk driving, aggressive driving, racing and other careless actions by some drivers contribute to hundreds of deaths each year in North Carolina. Let’s be thankful our officers are doing all they can to try and eliminate road-related fatalities and injuries in our community.
Finally, even though many people complain long and loud about the enforcement of our traffic laws, those complaints are more than offset by the frequent requests we receive from citizens asking for officers to observe traffic in their neighborhoods and along local streets and highways. In fact, many times when you see officers monitoring traffic, it’s in response to a citizen’s request.
So, the next time someone complains that the Town is getting rich off speeding tickets, take the opportunity to confuse them with the facts.”