When the police get entrepreneurial

The economic slowdown so often portrayed as a recession is pressuring tax revenues at every level of government. Hal Morris, the Grumpy Editor, warns of a possible wave of revenue enhancement efforts, citing a Chicago police plan:

As if designing a new aircraft, officials have determined speed and stopping distance in their model.  The plan is for a plainclothes officer to cross the street as a vehicle approaches from 140 feet away.  That, they add, is an adequate stopping distance based on the 30 m.p.h. speed limit on most streets.

A fellow police officer down the street will pull over non-stop-for-pedestrian drivers.

Initially, drivers who fail to give the right-of-way to the "pedestrians" will be issued warnings, reports the Chicago Tribune, adding "real tickets will follow as the campaign expands to other locations."

The police deny any predatory motives, claiming legitimate law enforcement intent. The fact that they are starting with citations lends great credibility to this claim. Nevertheless, the GE notes:

In these cash-strapped times, issuing more citations certainly is a tempting by-product.

The use of sting operations by police always carries with it the peril of entrapment. I gather that in Chicago there has not been much enforcement of the rule that motorists must stop for a pedestrian in a crosswalk, so that there is a problem with changing the enforcement policy and, in effect, the rules.

I am all for pedestrian safety efforts, but this effort of the Chicago police should be accompanied by a massive publicity campaign to alert drivers to the fact that the enforcement policy has changed.  Starting out with warning tickets is good, but it appears that this effort is limited to the first location. When the program expands across the city, there will be no warning tickets, apparently. Why?

I hope and trust the residents of Chicago will learn about this campaign and change their driving habits. And the police, for their part, might consider an anti-jaywalking campaign so that pedestrians will uphold their part of the bargain now that their crosswalk rights are being vigilantly enforced.

The downside, however, is obvious. The citizenry could become prey if police personnel find themselves rewarded for bringing in cash via the citations they issue. So close civilian oversight over any such efforts is necessary. I hope the Chicago police will be closely watched, and applauded if traffic safety improves. But if it doesn't, and this turns out to be "entrepreneurial" enforcement aimed at revenue, it should end.
The economic slowdown so often portrayed as a recession is pressuring tax revenues at every level of government. Hal Morris, the Grumpy Editor, warns of a possible wave of revenue enhancement efforts, citing a Chicago police plan:

As if designing a new aircraft, officials have determined speed and stopping distance in their model.  The plan is for a plainclothes officer to cross the street as a vehicle approaches from 140 feet away.  That, they add, is an adequate stopping distance based on the 30 m.p.h. speed limit on most streets.

A fellow police officer down the street will pull over non-stop-for-pedestrian drivers.

Initially, drivers who fail to give the right-of-way to the "pedestrians" will be issued warnings, reports the Chicago Tribune, adding "real tickets will follow as the campaign expands to other locations."

The police deny any predatory motives, claiming legitimate law enforcement intent. The fact that they are starting with citations lends great credibility to this claim. Nevertheless, the GE notes:

In these cash-strapped times, issuing more citations certainly is a tempting by-product.

The use of sting operations by police always carries with it the peril of entrapment. I gather that in Chicago there has not been much enforcement of the rule that motorists must stop for a pedestrian in a crosswalk, so that there is a problem with changing the enforcement policy and, in effect, the rules.

I am all for pedestrian safety efforts, but this effort of the Chicago police should be accompanied by a massive publicity campaign to alert drivers to the fact that the enforcement policy has changed.  Starting out with warning tickets is good, but it appears that this effort is limited to the first location. When the program expands across the city, there will be no warning tickets, apparently. Why?

I hope and trust the residents of Chicago will learn about this campaign and change their driving habits. And the police, for their part, might consider an anti-jaywalking campaign so that pedestrians will uphold their part of the bargain now that their crosswalk rights are being vigilantly enforced.

The downside, however, is obvious. The citizenry could become prey if police personnel find themselves rewarded for bringing in cash via the citations they issue. So close civilian oversight over any such efforts is necessary. I hope the Chicago police will be closely watched, and applauded if traffic safety improves. But if it doesn't, and this turns out to be "entrepreneurial" enforcement aimed at revenue, it should end.