The Los Angeles Police Department has a history of using its officers, particularly those who ride motorcycles, to issue what we like to call bullshit tickets.
We once encountered a cop sitting on his bike as he waved lucky motorist after lucky motorist over to receive roughly $200 tickets for making otherwise safe left turns during the wrong hours of the day. He was literally sitting on his ass while — well, heck, we don't have to tell you — some of the worst a-hole drivers in the nation crossed lanes to make missed turns, blocked traffic to figure out their GPS positions, and gunned it through fresh red lights just blocks away.
These "ticket traps" are about making money. If you don't believe us, consider that some of these very cops have testified that they were under illicit ticket-quota mandates. Some officials note that the city only gets a slice of the ticket pie, but that's just a greater incentive to issue more tickets.
It appears the ticket-quota mentality is back, but this time pedestrians are being targeted.
In a motion he recently filed, city Councilman Mike Bonin says the LAPD "has increased the enforcement of pedestrian violations."
In particular, Bonin and critics of the enforcement say, officers have been issuing $200 tickets to those who start walking after the red, don't-walk timer starts counting down.
Now, we're not exactly in favor of late walkers who jam up vehicle traffic on our streets. But if you can make it across the street before the light changes, we say go for it. And here's the main thing: With some of the worst drivers in the nation, shouldn't cops be dealing with higher priorities?
Here's what Bonin, chair of the City Council's Transportation Committee, told us:
It defies common sense to ticket someone who is entering a crosswalk as the countdown begins when they have still have time to cross the street safely without disrupting traffic. We need to be and we will be a Vision Zero city, and pedestrian safety is paramount. But if we are going to be doing 'crosswalk stings,' I want to be sure we are focusing on busting drivers who don't yield to people in the crosswalk.
His motion, introduced with the backing of Councilman Jose Huizar, is asking the LAPD to report back about the following: why more "discretion" isn't used when it issues these tickets "to the letter of the law;" how many such tickets are issued; and what the relationship is between the tickets and safety.
His motion notes that "concerns have also been raised" about the tickets being prominent in "select neighborhoods." He also wants the LAPD to address that allegation as well.
Overall, Bonin sounds like a man on his way to proposing a local ban on these ridiculous, overpriced citations.
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He notes that while the LAPD is technically right in issuing the tickets, the law was written before the count-down street-crossing signals even existed. His motion says the law references traffic signals "that would now only be found in a museum."
The citations are particularly dumb, he suggests, at a time when other city departments, even the office of Mayor Eric Garcetti, are trying to get more Angelenos out of their cars. Bonin:
Excessive and expensive tickets disincentive walking in Los Angeles. We want people to be safe, but we do not want 'Do Not Walk' to be the message we send Angelenos.