Devine City Council purchases ticket writing system, considers speed bump on Fullerton Dr.

Devine Police Chief Kandy Benavides and Cardinal Tracking, Inc.’s Laura Mason show off the new ticketing system City Council agreed to purchase for the police department at the Special meeting on March 30.

Devine Police Chief Kandy Benavides and Lieutenant Chris Andrews presented the Devine City Council with a proposal for the purchase of two mobile ticket writing systems from Cardinal Tracking, Inc., at the Special meeting on Thursday, March 30.
Council members David Espinosa, Hal Lance, Steve Lopez, David Valdez, and Kathy Wilkins were in attendance, as were Mayor Bill Herring, Interim City Administrator Dora Rodriguez, and City Attorney Tom Cate.
According to Benavides, traffic stops made by Devine officers have increased dramatically over the last few years, from 845 in 2015 to 1,573 in 2016. A total of 1,190 stops had been made in 2017 as of March 28. All of the citations issued by officers are hand written, then checked for discrepancies by Benavides or Andrews before going to Administrative Assistant Jenise Whittaker for computer entry and on to Court Clerk Alma Rios-Flores for use in Municipal Court.
“I didn’t realize how many hands touch the tickets,” Rodriguez said. “There’s so much room for error, and in talking to our auditor, he agreed with me.”
Laura Mason of Cardinal Tracking, Inc., was on hand to explain the system and its benefits.
“What the City’s looking at is a handheld ticket writer that’s going to allow the officers, first, to scan the driver’s license and it’s going to put the data in,” Mason said. “So as long as you’ve got a valid date on the license, then it’s going to go in with the right driver’s license number, the right information. The officers can make updates and changes as needed, but that eliminates the need for anyone to type in that violator information, whether it be an officer or a report person in the police department or a clerk in the court, you’ve eliminated the need to do that typing all three times.”
Vehicle information can be entered by scanning the tags. Officers then fill out location, violation, and profiling data that is required by the state, and tickets are printed on polythermal paper that won’t fade in the sun. At the end of their shift, officers dock the system and download the data, which can then be reviewed by Benavides for accuracy.
“Then we do have an interface in Incode, which I believe is your [Municipal] Court, and so they’ll send a file over to Incode, so it should eliminate the need for manual data entry on those tickets.”
Rodriguez said she had called Incode to get prices on the interface that works with the proposed ticket writer program.
“We are the only law enforcement agency in this county that doesn’t have any kind of ticket writing system,” Andrews said. “We write ours by hand. So figure 1,100 tickets by hand, by different officers – some have really good handwriting, some have horrific handwriting…this is going to be a lifesaver.”
The cost for two handheld units and stands for each police vehicle is $18,780.30. The estimate includes a three-year hardware warranty that Mason said would be extended to four years.
“They’re military ruggedized standard,” Mason said. “So for vibration, dust, heat, and cold. If they leave them on the dash in the car, it’s still going to work. It’s designed for law enforcement, military-type situations.”
Andrews said the police department had contacted the Decatur, King, and Hillsboro departments, who all have the system and are happy with it.
A Lopez-Wilkins motion to approve the purchase of two handheld ticket writing units from Cardinal Tracking, Inc., and amend the budget for the sum of $18,780.30, with the stipulation that the cost of the Incode software not exceed $3,000 passed 5-0.
If the department is happy with the ticket writers and the budget allows for it, more ticket writers will be purchased in the 2017-2018 fiscal year to allow more than two officers at a time to patrol with the system.
Fullerton Dr. speed bump
Speed bumps were installed on Fullerton Dr. in 2010, but damaged during removal for a 2014 street resurfacing and never replaced. Butch Cook, who lives at the corner of Ross and Fullerton just off CR 3176, requested that the speed bumps be re-installed at the Regular meeting on Sept. 20, 2016, and Council voted 5-0 to do so, pending a traffic study by Devine PD.
Benavides provided the results of the traffic study at the Regular meeting on Nov. 15, 2016, and recommended against re-installing the speed bumps.
“Would it help?” Benavides asked at the Nov. 15 meeting. “It could help, but there again, there’s an expense you have to take into consideration to put one into place, and there’s other areas in town too that we could use them.”
Council accepted her recommendation and voted unanimously to deny Cook’s request on a Lopez-Espinosa motion.
Cook arrived late to the Nov. 15 meeting, and Council agreed to revisit the matter.
“The question I had was, if [the speed bump] was going to go back,” Cook said at the time, “or if it could be moved a little further down the street…What happens is, people accelerate, and as they’re coming down the curve, they just go ahead and come on down our street and keep on going. It’s all downhill. I would bet it’s the most dangerous intersection in our city.”
Cook disagreed with the method and findings of the traffic study, and after some debate, Council voted unanimously on a Lopez-Espinosa motion to rescind their earlier decision to deny Cook’s request for a replacement speed bump. A Lopez-Espinosa motion to postpone a decision on reinstalling a speed bump pending further traffic study passed 5-0.
At the March 30 meeting, Cook informed Council that while he had spoken to City administration about doing something to address the intersection of Ross and Fullerton and CR 3176 after a vehicle traveling on the latter wound up in his yard, he had not asked for the original speed bump to be installed.
“I didn’t come to the City of Devine asking for a speed bump,” Cook said. “We had another truck end up on our property, on our driveway that time, it crashed and so forth and I came to the City Manager and asked if there was something we could do about this dangerous intersection. And at that time, the proposal was for a speed bump. I didn’t say, ‘Hey, I want a speed bump,’ so I’d like to get that clear. And to be honest with you, I’ve never liked the speed bump.”
Cook said the location where the previous speed bump had been installed was too close to the intersection to be of any use.
“But my thing was, ‘Are you going to put it back? The signs are there, what are we going to do?'”
He described the section of CR 3176 that runs near his house, pointing out that the real danger came from the road and that the speed bump wasn’t the real issue.
“That is a State Highway,” Herring pointed out.
Rodriguez added that the State had already done a study on the road.
“They said it’s not the vehicles, it’s the drivers,” Rodriguez said. “They’re not paying attention. And so they’re not going to do another study.”
Cook reiterated that the speed bump wouldn’t have stopped the vehicle that recently lost control on CR 3176 and ended up crashing into his house.
“So are you in favor of reinstalling the speed bump?” Herring asked.
Cook said that he had spoken with his two adjacent neighbors who are most affected by it, “and if the City wants to put the speed bump back, we would like it moved down the street just a little bit.”
Herring asked for Benavides’s opinion.
“If that’s something that Council feels that they would like to do then that’s fine,” Benavides said. “I do believe that the people who are going to slow down are going to slow down, and the others, you know, it’s the drivers. They just don’t seem to care.”
Public Works Director Ismael Carrillo said that the rubber speed bumps came in packs of four for $664. Wilkins pointed out that the rubber speed bumps are not very durable.
“They’re recommended by our insurance carrier,” Herring said. “Because remember, we had a homemade one, and we had to remove it because our insurance carrier said they were having too many claims because it was stopping people, all right.”
A Lopez-Wilkins motion to reinstall the speed bumps and amend the budget for $664.25 passed 5-0.
Other business
Council also voted unanimously to waive the City permits for Bethel Assembly of God church, and to go with the default rate on right-of-way access lines.
By Marly Davis
Staff Writer