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IMPD, state officers focused on community safety through 'Click It or Ticket' campaign

IMPD Lt. Shane Foley stops a driver for not wearing a seat belt
Posted at 11:20 PM, May 27, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-27 23:37:09-04

INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana is in the middle of a three-week 'Click It or Ticket' campaign. Across the state, law enforcement agencies are dedicating overtime hours to seat belt enforcement.

WRTV's Kayla Molander went on a ride-along with Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department (IMPD) public information officer Lt. Shane Foley to see the enforcement first-hand.

The IMPD hours are funded by a grant through the state, so it isn't taken from other law enforcement resources, according to Foley.

"Sometimes it's a no-win situation for our officers," Foley said. "Whenever something like a fatal accident happens, they say, 'Go out and enforce traffic, go out and enforce traffic. We're not doing enough traffic enforcement.' So we come out to enforce traffic, and inevitably through the day, someone says 'Why are you doing this? You should be enforcing something else. Violent crime.' One guy was pointing at people in a homeless shelter saying, 'You should be dealing with them.'"

Dr. Arvind Verma is a professor of criminal justice at Indiana University Bloomington. He says that criminal justice isn't that simple: big crime and small crime are linked. He also says that something as simple as traffic enforcement can fight both.

"It does show that No. 1, the police presence is there," Verma said. "The police is working with the community. The police are concerned even about minor violation(s), and the message is that, 'Hey, we care even about small violations, so serious violations will be handled in a serious manner."

"Particularly in areas of high crime, just the presence of a police officer and the lights can help a neighborhood feel safer, hopefully, be safer," Foley said.

In the space of an hour and a half, Foley issues 13 citations - 10 for seat belts, two for suspended licenses and one for running a red light.

Foley let two drivers off with a warning.

One woman was talking on her phone while driving, but when Foley discovered she was leaving a funeral, he gave her some leniency.

"While what she did was a violation of the law, it didn't help our relationship with the community to write her a ticket," Foley said. "Discretion is an important part of our job."

That discretion is the key to community policing, according to Dr. Verma.

"An educative approach to minor offenses, like traffic enforcement, will always be very beneficial, and will press upon citizens that the police really care about them," Verma said.

A seat belt ticket from IMPD costs $25. According to the US Department of Transportation, 51% of people killed in traffic crashes in 2020 weren't wearing seat belts. The agency also says that a seat belt can reduce the chances of dying in a collision by up to 60%.