I recently researched the history of motorcycles in law enforcement for an article for PoliceOne.com. I was pretty amazed at what I discovered about the impetus behind motorcycles being used in a law enforcement capacity.
See, in the 1920’s, vehicles were becoming more widely manufactured and utilized on the roads. The technology was still new, so people weren’t really aware of the inherent dangers in operating a motorized vehicle. Consequently, they drove like idiots.
Police departments were quick to figure out a motorcycles advantages in enforcing traffic laws and utilized them to great success in reducing the amount of fatalities.
You know…just like we do today.
It got me to thinking about how much society has changed. The goal of the traffic unit was, and always has been, to reduce collisions (be they non-injury or fatal) and make the streets safer for all of those on them.
Society used to know that and appreciate it.
Nowadays, though, many generations later, society at large seems to have grown more entitled, distrustful, and paranoid about the purpose behind traffic enforcement. If I had a dollar for every time I heard someone say things like “must be the end of the month” or “gotta make that money, huh?” I could have retired years ago.
I’ve posted a number of times about my perspectives on this topic before, but the recent research brought it back to the forefront of my mind, so I find myself being a bit repetitive…much as I hate doing that.
Here’s the cold truth:
We write tickets for traffic violations. The more tickets we write, the less collisions we have.
There are three E’s when it comes to reducing collisions and making streets safer.
- Education – This takes the form of community meetings, jurisdictions distributing literature about traffic safety, and the like.
- Engineering – This is the city/town/county implementing standardized road signs, lights, appropriate speed limits, and even traffic calming options like speed bumps or rumble strips.
- Enforcement – That’s me and my ilk. Personally, I think we educate as well…it just hits your wallet.
“Aha!” you say. “You said ‘wallet’! I knew it!”
Relax, Johnny. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I don’t care about the financial well-being of my town, county, or state. In my experience, a lesson (writing tickets) that costs money (enforcement) is a stronger lesson indeed.
That’s not to say I don’t get repeat customers. I most certainly do. Some people are more thick-headed than others. They need some extra attention. They’re like that kid in your class that used to eat paste. That kid needed the teacher more often than you did. You learned your lesson quicker.
It’s been over 100 years since Detroit PD purchased the first motorcycle intended strictly for police use. At some point during the last century, the focus of keeping streets safer became bastardized into something much less altruistic and much more nefarious (at least in the eyes of many).
For me, the mission remains the same. I write more tickets so I can write less crashes.
I don’t need to attend any more autopsies.