Columbus police force plans to step up traffic citations

COLUMBUS, Miss. (WCBI) – Troopers with the Mississippi Highway Patrol issued a total of 7,026 citations over the long Memorial Day Weekend.

The Columbus Police Department will be stepping up its ticket writing as well.

“The most common thing that we notice are speeders,” said Officer Jeremy Fortney who specializes in traffic with the Columbus Police Department. “A lot of people think we’re just out to pick on them. We’re pulling them over for no reason. I try to tell them, tell them all the time. There’s a reason that we’re stopping you is because you committed a traffic offense and when we do stop you, be patient with us.”

The officer will identify himself and ask for your license and insurance.

“Oh, I don’t have to show you my name. I don’t have to give you any identification on a traffic stop,” said Fortney.

Contrary to popular belief, Officer Timothy Tate said a driver is legally required to identify themselves to law enforcement in the state of Mississippi.

“One of the traffic violations is called no driver’s license on demand, which means you have absolutely no type of identification on you which means we don’t know who you are. You could be anybody and just give us some type of fake information which has happened more than once so. You not having your driver’s license or any type of ID can result you to being arrested until you’re able to be identified,” said Tate.

Tate said that’s not the only thing people assume about traffic officers.

“Another misconception is we run on a quota system which is actually illegal on how many citations each officer has to write before any type of reprimand is done to them. We don’t do that inside our municipality at all,” said Tate.

In simpler terms, officers don’t get paid to write tickets.

Fortney said regardless of whether the offense is a simple violation, laws are in place for a reason.

“You just never know when it’s your turn to be in an accident because a driver is not paying attention,” said Fortney.

The CPD is expected to bring back its traffic division, including a motorcycle unit to add flexibility to patrols.

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