Writing tickets has just gotten easier for Shepherdstown police thanks to a grant by the Governor's Highway Safety Program.
"All I have to do is type in the information on the display," said patrolman Michael Moats. "The display looks just like a ticket I would hand-write, but I can make notes on the ticket, add attachments, files; I can add photographs to it if there's an accident or something."
Once the ticket information is saved, it gets sent over a secure line to Chief King and Corporal Yonkers of the Shepherdstown police department to be reviewed for accuracy. Once the ticket is approved, it is sent electronically to the DMV and to the court clerk to prepare for court cases, if necessary, thereby cutting down on paper use.
"It's very convenient to use," said Moats. "We're all getting used to it. It really cuts down on printing. The only thing I have to print is a physical copy to the violator, which is roughly 3.5 inches wide on thermal paper. When I go to court, I can actually bring my tablet with me at the court hearing and pull up all that information. I can pull up the citation, my notes, pictures, if I took any-anything like that."
The citation looks very similar to the familiar hand-written copies, they are simply more legible.
"It can difficult for the court clerk to read some of the handwriting. Then when you have multiple copies, usually 5 of them, and I would get the bottom copy. Even if my handwriting were legible, if you don't press hard enough, it's still very difficult to read. I would have to print copies of the citations to bring to court. This is much better."
Each of the officers have an e-ticket machine for the state and municipal citations and each of the parking enforcement officers have a e-ticket printer for parking.
Metered parking in town allows for people to use the "Passport" app to pay for parking in a convenient, digital way without having to run back to the car to check on time and insert coins. This app also makes it easier for parking enforcement officers to check meters and write tickets using a similar, but smaller device than the e-citation machine. Upon seeing an expired meter, he can check the meter number on the app to see if more time has been added. If a citation is necessary, the officer then enters automobile information into the app, which then travels via blue tooth connection to their own to print a ticket on the spot.
"That app allows information to populate automatically if a certain vehicle was ever issued a citation before," said Moats. "It will also say if there are outstanding tickets on the vehicle that have not been paid, or if it's gotten to the point where it needs to have a boot restrictor put on to basically demand payment of the tickets."
Charles Town police and the sheriff's office have also been issued e-citation machines.