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Soft-Hearted Cop Stays on Force

August 20, 1988

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) _ A traffic patrolman who wrote more than 1,000 bogus tickets and gave some motorists a break will remain with the police department, his superiors have decided.

″I’ve lost 15 pounds over this. It’s a hard way to diet,″ said patrolman Michael Ghrist, a 17-year veteran of the Louisville Police Department.

He was given a 25-day suspension last month after the deception surfaced, and officials decided last week to keep him on the force.

″I just could not bring myself to write tickets. I had a conscience. l had a heart. I started seeing the human beings behind the wheel,″ the 36-year-old officer explained in an interview Thursday.

A computer listing indicated Ghrist had written more than 1,000 tickets since 1981 to people for whom state employees could find no Kentucky driver’s licenses, Chief Jefferson District Judge Donald Smalley said.

Initially, officials thought only 100 tickets were involved but said later the number had been understated because of poor communication within the department.

″There was no indication that he was shirking his duty,″ city Safety Director Tom Kuster said. ″He was just wasting a lot of paper and screwing up the court’s statistical system.″

Ghrist said he started writing bogus tickets because, ″If I gave too many people breaks, my activity level would be too low.″

Police officials denied that there is a ticket quota system and said Ghrist was motivated by ″self-imposed peer pressure.″

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