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  • Opinions or Facts about "mandatory" documentation

    My department provides officers with warning citations. An email was sent department wide saying it was mandatory that for each traffic stop the officer must at least write the driver a written warning. Of course there's no law and we have no policy for this. I feel like the officer's discretion has been taken and this is strictly for statistical, political purposes. Any one have this issue or an opinion?? I'd appreciate your thoughts.

  • #2
    My opinion...the time spent writing a written warning is better spent cutting the guy loose on a verbal, and getting on with finding your arrest or a good ticket.

    It also drives our front office folks crazy when they have to enter them. I rarely write them.

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    • #3
      We have a form where it documents the subject's race, gender, and age. if it was moving violation or vehicle equipment violation. Also has a comments section i usually put the reason for warning ex. new car not used to headlight system. Basically they make these forms so they can track the specifics of the people you stop to make sure your not profiling.
      Where'd you learn that, Cheech? Drug school?

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      • #4
        [QUOTE=Traffic_82]My opinion...the time spent writing a written warning is better spent cutting the guy loose on a verbal, and getting on with finding your arrest or a good ticket.

        Well said my friend, get that person on their way so you can look for something more serious. "Yes boss, I know I should have given Joe Blow a written warning but I figured the drunk that was driving in the wrong lane was more serious than
        Mr.blow not using his directionals."
        "Fast is fine, but accuracy is everything!"-Wyatt Earp

        "You never know when crazy will show up!"-Irishdep

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        • #5
          I see two issues:

          #1: Setting polcy by email. If the department, in its wisdom, wants to make something mandatory then it should put it in the policy manual. Email and paper memos get lost nad/or forgotten, except by those who send them. Inevitably somebody gets jammed up because he forgot Capt. X's email of June 17, 2003.

          #2: How much information should we record? Early in my career I was able to identify a burglary/rape suspect because I'd written a warning. The victim recognized the suspect because she'd walked by the traffic stop about half an hour before she was attacked.

          Just as it's easy to address a problem by shooting off an email with a new, improved, "mandatory" procedure, it's easy to create yet another form for officers to fill out.

          A few years ago I made a count of all my agency's forms. There were at least 105. (I say "at least" because I there were a few shelves and drawers I couln't get at.) Few of these forms were mentioned in the Policy and Procedures Manual.

          At Utopia PD information is collected only to meet a demonstrated need. Redundancy is a sin and making things easier for the guy on the street is a virtue.

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          • #6
            Mandatory documentation? It just might save your butt on a traffic stop; ie, complaints against you for unlawfully stopping, profiling, etc. The New Jersey State Police (even without the consent decree) mandated all traffic stops be documented either by written warning or summons. The warnings are only a couple of lines long; basically license info, tag number and reason for stop. And warnings can only be issued for certain violations. On another note, if you don't want to write warnings, don't notify anyone you are conducting a stop. That way no one knows nothing! However, that opens up too many issues - ie, officer safety, violating sop's, cover-up's, etc. Besides, what's an extra minute or two and who says you even have to give the motorist their copy. They won't know any different and your covered by documenting.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by sibpd893tf
              Mandatory documentation? It just might save your butt on a traffic stop; ie, complaints against you for unlawfully stopping, profiling, etc. The New Jersey State Police (even without the consent decree) mandated all traffic stops be documented either by written warning or summons. The warnings are only a couple of lines long; basically license info, tag number and reason for stop. And warnings can only be issued for certain violations. On another note, if you don't want to write warnings, don't notify anyone you are conducting a stop. That way no one knows nothing! However, that opens up too many issues - ie, officer safety, violating sop's, cover-up's, etc. Besides, what's an extra minute or two and who says you even have to give the motorist their copy. They won't know any different and your covered by documenting.
              Great points!
              "Fast is fine, but accuracy is everything!"-Wyatt Earp

              "You never know when crazy will show up!"-Irishdep

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              • #8
                Was someone in your agency just recently promoted, that would have control over this? If so, this could be an ego thing. You know, "look what I can do", " I have power over my subordinates". An ego, especially an inflated one, can be a terrible thing. On the other hand, has your agency been generating a lot of complaints, stemming from traffic stops? For instance, special interest groups or ethnic groups that claim "racial profiling". This may be a way for your Chief to combat this. A "put up or shut up" policy. He knows that your agency is doing the right thing. But, you know as well as I do, that the public doesn't see it that way. Now, when they come back and claim this and that, you have documentation. Before you get all upset, think about the whole picture. Is someone looking out for you and your best interest? I once had a supervisor that said, " if it ain't on paper, it didn't happen." Something to ponder.

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                • #9
                  Mandatory documentation

                  Alabama DPS has utilized written warnings for many years. IMHO, they are a valuable enforcement tool, and enable an officer to use considerable discretion. Dept policy provides for enforcement on the following levels.
                  1). Verbal Warning
                  2). Written Warning.
                  3). Uniform Traffic Citation
                  4). Custodial Arrest.

                  An "unwritten" rule Officers follow is, if the violator is a lone female, at least a written warning would be issued. The reasons for this are faily obvious.

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                  • #10
                    If the email went out department-wide and it's from command, sounds like you're insubordinate if you don't comply. It's pretty much policy, unless someone wins a grievance against it or gets the union to get it removed.
                    Three Stripes beats Four Aces.
                    Retirement: You've Won the War when you're Paid to Stay at Home.

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