Buckling: Police checkpoint season opens

Albemarle gets federal funds for participating in Click It or Ticket, even though drivers have to be breaking another law before they can be ticketed for not wearing a seatbelt in Virginia .

Albemarle County police headed out to Greenwood May 18 to kick off the "Click It or Ticket" season with a traffic checkpoint on Route 250. "Click It" is a national campaign that encourages seatbelt use with the threat of ticketing. In Virginia, where non-use is a secondary offense, police can't stop drivers solely for not wearing a seatbelt, but if a motorist is stopped for, say, speeding and doesn't have that belt fastened, then they get a ticket.

Albemarle police promise checkpoints the next two weeks, and any violation, such as improper registration, can earn a non-seatbelt-wearer a ticket. "If you don't have a seatbelt on but no other violation, you won't get a ticket," says Sergeant Pete Mainzer with county police.

That was a lesson in secondary offenses Albemarle police learned in 2003 when then commonwealth's attorney Jim Camblos refused to prosecute a seatbelt ticket if there was no other violation.

The U.S. 29 corridor is the primary focus of the Click It campaign, which runs through May 31 and will include speed traps and saturation patrols. "Five people have been killed so far this year in the county," says Mainzer, "and three out of four fatal accidents were on 29."

Mainzer denies what he says is a mistaken impression some people have that police have ticket quotas or get to spend the money collected in fines from all the ticketing. "There's never been a quota in our department," he says. "The fine money goes to the locality general fund, not to the police department."

So Click It or Ticket offers no police perks? Says Mainzer, "We get to have some satisfaction knowing maybe we kept someone from killing themselves or someone else."


But law enforcement agencies do indeed have ââ?¬Å?performance expectations” of their employees.

Doesn't every employer have "performance expectations?" Shouldn't a police department have expectations of their officers, just like anyone else? We pay taxes so they do their job, right?

Just obey the law and you have nothing to worry about!!

Sam, I have a perfect driving record. 40 years of driving, no convictions whatsoever, not even a parking ticket. All I was saying is cops DO have quotas, they're just not called quotas. For example, Virginia troopers are called into headquarters to answer to top brass if they do not write enough tickets each month. And after the second or third time of being called in, they face disciplinary action, up to and including termination. But even the Virginia State Police will tell you the troopers do not have quotas.

It irks the heck out of me when I see a law enforcement officer say they don't have quotas. It double irks me when a supervisor makes the same remark. :)

They may not have quotas in albemarle but there are many jurisdictions where there are contests between officers for extra vacation days.

This is a federal program that needs to be exposed.

In northern va they are writing up people who are bukling up as they drive out of the drive through at the bank (where they unbuckled to reach the tube)

As for the money going into the "general fund" where do the officers pay raises come from if its not the "general fund"? where do the special requests for new equipment come from if it is not the "general fund"? Get real.

Driving while black is a misdemeanor, and driving while Hispanic is a felony in the Commonwealth. Do either, and you will also receive a ticket for no seatbelt in addtion to DWB or DWH charges.

So the cops are REWARDED with overtime from OUR tax money.

I wonder how many tickets they have to write to qualify?

Most likely, federal grants. And they in turn pay some of the cops overtime to work the enforcement details.

163 cars were stopped today, and 170 tickets were issued during an enforcement detail.

None. For example, if the county police receive a federal grant for DUI enforcement, they dont have to charge anybody with DUI. All they have to do is patrol the streets, call themselves looking for DUI drivers, and divide the money up amongst themselves. And since this federal grant is "extra money", it's almost always dished out in the form of overtime pay.

There's tremendous amounts of overtime out here for cops in various forms. If a cop really sets his mind to it, he can make more every year in overtime pay than he can from his base salary. You take a cop making a starting salary of $36,000 a year, add in $36,000 overtime, benefits, take home car, etc... they're easily pushing $100,000 a year locally. Yet they whine about the low pay for such a dangerous job. Baloney!!!! The job is not even in the Top 10 of the most dangerous professions.

ps - the most dangerous profession is logging. There's more deaths per 100,000 employees in logging than there is in police work. High on the list is deep sea fishing, truck drivers, airline pilots, and taxi drivers. They also have more deaths per 100,000 employees than cops do.

The 10 most dangerous jobs
Occupation Fatalities per 100,000
Timber cutters 117.8
Fishers 71.1
Pilots and navigators 69.8
Structural metal workers 58.2
Drivers-sales workers 37.9
Roofers 37
Electrical power installers 32.5
Farm occupations 28
Construction laborers 27.7
Truck drivers 25

Dan, so if a cop sees you staggering through a parking lot to your car he cannot pull you over until you leave the outback parking lot?



Eff the muthaeffin' Popo.

Glad I left my native VA. Too many 20-something rookie cops trying to prove something. Why don't all you folks move to the midwest?
The cops here aren't crooked like loudoun county or any of the rooty-toot redneck fartknockers down there.

quote: ââ?¬Å?There’s never been a quota in our department,” Mainzer says."

Yeah. Right. The use of the word "quota" is forbidden by any agency hoping to cash in on federal grants. But law enforcement agencies do indeed have "performance expectations" of their employees.

"Performance expectation" = quota in disguise.

I like to propose another awareness program.

Turn that darn phone off or get a beatdown and a ticket week.

I guess it could coincide with click it or ticket.

Willy, I can believe it. Northern Virginia has some of the dumbest cops I have ever seen in my life.

Buck, one of the main reasons the Virginia lawmakers have refused to classify the seat belt law as a primary offense is because of what you mention. They feel cops will abuse it and give cops another tool they can use in racial profiling.

I wonder where all of the funds are coming from for this enforcement. I cannot believe thst the police would bother to do this unless there was an incentive.

I call BS on the drivethrough thing. They can't cite you for not buckling up on private property.

Dan, trust me, cops can do as they please. And some of them do.

After a judge dismisses a wrongful charge placed by a cop, you then sue them to get your attorney fees and damages back.

I imagine in the bank example above, the cops are sitting there waiting and watching for the tires to hit the public roadway. Even so, it there is no other offense involved, they can't enforce the seat belt violation. But...... some cops have learned that the majority of the public will prepay most violations. So they feel it doesn't really matter if they right or wrong in issuing the ticket in the first place!