N4T Investigators: Speed trap? - KVOA | KVOA.com | Tucson, Arizona

N4T Investigators: Speed trap?

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Oro Valley - Any time you've been in Oro Valley, chances are you've seen drivers pulled over by police, apparently getting a speeding ticket.  

Oro Valley Police Lieutenant Chris Olson knows that cops here have the reputation of being extremely tough on speeders, maybe tougher than any other local police department. The News 4 Tucson Investigators did some research to see if the perception about Oro Valley Police is myth or reality. We compared the number of speeding tickets given by cops since 2010 in four other Arizona towns with similar populations of about 40-thousand. Here is what we found:  Prescott Valley police issued 4821 speeding tickets. Marana, 6727. Bullhead City: 8204. Oro Valley 9096. Sierra Vista Police issued 10,101 speeding tickets since 2010.  That's about a thousand more than Oro Valley over the same five-year period.

Sierra Vista Police Commander Daryl Copp said, "It just so happens that we're proactive in trying to change bad driving behavior and citations do get issued."  Commander Copp Sierra points out that the town gets only four dollars from each ticket, most revenue goes to Cochise County.  

In Oro Valley, police say the reason many people think the town's a  speed trap is because police here make a lot of traffic stops.

Sgt. Troy Kranz told the News 4 Tucson Investigators, "What people don't realize is that most traffic stops we have are actually not for speeding. Well under a third of our traffic stops are typically for speeding." 

Sergeant Kranz says two-thirds of Oro Valley's stops are for running stop signs and red lights, and for not having proper registration.

One statistic from our research jumped out at us: in 2013 Oro Valley Police handed out 2127 speeding tickets. But in 2014, they issued 1360 citations. That's a drop of nearly 767 in just one year.  That could be due to people just driving slower up here as word spread. Or it could be due to a program called HIVE, standing for High Visibility Enforcement, in which five times a month during morning and evening rush hour, five motorcycle officers watch the town's busiest intersections.

Olson said of the large decrease from 2013 to 2014, "I think it's because we have really focused on the educational campaign of our HIVE [program]. Our motor officers have gotten in the habit of writing warnings, and I think that has carried on with them in their normal duties." 

Olson says through the end of April of this year, out of 583 traffic stops, 552 resulted in warnings. Only 31 moving violations were issued.

Lt. Olson said, "On average, we're writing about five speeding tickets a day. You know, over the course of 365 days, and if you consider that Oracle Road has about 50,000 vehicles traveling up and down it each day, that's one speeding ticket for every 10,000 cars.  

Lt. Olson believes the biggest reason for the misperception about Oro Valley and speeding tickets is the frequent presence of all the police motorcycle patrols. And, he says, the best advice for people who drive in Oro Valley is really very simple: obey the speed limit. 

If you have a story you'd like us to investigate, email us at investigators@kvoa.com, or call our tip line, 520- 955-4444. 

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