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State patrol going electronic

An officer uses the new electronic system to process a traffic ticket or collision report. The new system reduces the amount of time for a traffic stop. - Courtesy photo
An officer uses the new electronic system to process a traffic ticket or collision report. The new system reduces the amount of time for a traffic stop.
— image credit: Courtesy photo

Washington state troopers may no longer need to carry pens and paper tickets in their patrol cars.

A select group of officers from local and state law enforcement agencies are currently testing a system that allows electronic ticketing and collision reporting.

“I think it’s a good asset,” said Trooper Gabe Fletcher who is currently testing the system. “It’s a lot easier and faster inputing information in the computer rather than handwriting it.”

Each year, more than one million traffic tickets and nearly 160,000 collision reports are processed in Washington. The electronic system reduces traffic stop times and avoids possible errors due to handwriting.

The Washington State Department of Transportation, and a national study, found that about 10 percent of all tickets and collision reports contain errors.

“Troopers who have this see it as a time-saving tool and reduces possible clerical errors in the paperwork,” said Trooper Brian George, spokesman for the Washington State Patrol.

Currently two state troopers and a sergeant are testing the system in Kitsap County. Fletcher’s patrol car is equipped with an in-vehicle computer and handheld scanner. Fletcher quickly scans a person’s driver’s license and vehicle registration to obtain the necessary information. He inputs a few things onto the computer and prints out a traffic ticket or collision report.

“I can get people back on their way without too much disruption to their commute,” Fletcher said.

He said when handwriting a traffic ticket or collision report, it took five minutes. With the electronic system, it takes one minute.

The electronic tickets and collision reports are encrypted and sent to the appropriate offices and courts.

“The information gets sent to the courts electronically which frees up the troopers from having to hand-deliver the information,” Fletcher said.

Fletcher likes the electronic system because it provides a record of what he has done throughout the day. He is able to pull up information and complete work that he would normally have to do at the office.

“It’s like having our own mobile offices in our patrol cars,” he said.

Fletcher finds the system most useful for writing collision reports. He is able to quickly scan the appropriate people’s licenses and registrations and clear the roadway.

“The time aspect is great, but for me, I think it’s more useful on the collision side,” Fletcher said. “I’m able to clear the roadway quickly and safely.”

A study will be done to determine the amount of time law enforcement officials actually save with the electronic system. Results are expected in the fall.

“This is another great tool that will hopefully be implemented statewide,” Fletcher said.

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