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Officials: No incentive for false seat belt tickets

August 3, 2018

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. (AP) — Law enforcement officials in Kansas and Missouri have no reason to issue bogus traffic tickets for not wearing a seat belt instead of citing motorists for more serious traffic infractions, according to transportation officials in both states.

Overland Park Police Chief Frank Donchez Jr. said some officers overlooked traffic violations like speeding and instead cited motorists for not wearing seat belts when they’d actually been buckled up, The Kansas City Star reported . Officers could have simply issued motorists warnings for the traffic violations instead of issuing false tickets for a lesser charge, he said.

“We’re having a hard time wrapping our heads around it,” Donchez said.

The issue emerged after three Overland Park police officers resigned last month following an internal investigation into false seat belt citations. More than 200 traffic tickets have since been dismissed and about $4,000 has been refunded to motorists.

Both states’ transportation agencies give federal grant dollars that provide law enforcement agencies with more resources in order to increase the enforcement of seat belt laws. Those funds typically cover overtime payments.

The Kansas Transportation Department monitors activity reports and overtime records, but there’s no quota for tickets that should be issued, said Chris Bortz, the traffic safety program manager at the Kansas Department of Transportation.

The Missouri Transportation Department also doesn’t have an incentive for issuing more tickets, said Mike Stapp, the law enforcement grant coordinator for the Missouri Department of Transportation.

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Information from: The Kansas City Star, http://www.kcstar.com

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