By BRAD COOPER
The Kansas City Star
Police around the area are getting out of the business of writing traffic tickets.
Overland Park, Olathe and Leawood plan to buy a new generation of gadgets allowing officers to issue tickets without lifting a pen. Belton already uses them.
Call it e-ticketing.
Much as a store clerk swipes a credit card, motorcycle police will swipe driver's licenses though a device similar to a Palm Pilot when they hand out tickets. Others will swipe the card through a computer in their patrol cars.
Either way, the devices will transfer the information imbedded in the magnetic strip on the back of a Kansas license - name, height, weight and birthday - to the ticket.
Drivers still get a paper copy, but it looks and feels like the receipt from a credit card purchase.
With a couple clicks on the computer, officers can insert other details, such as the make and model of the car.
The goal is to cut minutes off traffic stops and save court clerks the cumbersome task of reading officers' handwriting and typing thousands of tickets into the court computer.
It also reduces the chance that a judge will toss a ticket because it wasn't filled out correctly.
In other parts of the country, including Texas and Florida, police reportedly have halved the time needed for a traffic stop.
"I'm actually looking forward to it," said Olathe police Officer David Williams. "It is the biggest pain ...to fill out these citations."
Especially if you are a motorcycle police officer, such as Williams.
His pen can freeze in cold weather, and one wind gust can blow a day's worth of paperwork across the street.
Belton moved into the new age of ticketing two years ago with portable devices that scan the license bar code. Now, some officers have card readers that transfer the information from the license into the computer.
Belton Police Chief James Person said electronic ticketing probably helped more with record-keeping than it did in saving time on the street.
Kansas City police have no plans to use the devices, a spokesman said, but Overland Park, Olathe and Leawood hope to scrap the paper tickets next year.
Police in those cities are asking for more than $300,000 combined to pay for the systems.
But will it be faster?
Some wonder whether it will be, especially if the license is tattered or if the magnetic strip is worn and officers have to type the information into the computer.
"The question is, 'Am I faster on a keyboard or with an ink pen?'" said Olathe police Sgt Todd Milberger.
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