TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - The Marana Police Department has received a grant in the amount of $35,480 from the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety. Funds will support the hardware upgrades necessary to participate in the Arizona Department of Transportation Traffic and Criminal Software.
MPD Sgt. Jose Alvarez has spent 21 years patrolling Marana’s streets and has spent his fair share of time writing tickets.
Currently, they use an e-ticket system that allows officers to scan driver’s licenses, take the signatures of motorists and dispense traffic tickets. But there’s a lot they still have to do manually.
“Every plate I run comes up on here,” explained Alvarez, pointing to the software on his laptop in the patrol car. "But I have to manually put it in.”
And that takes time, putting officers’ lives at risk on the side of the road.
“Any time we do a traffic stop there’s a risk, an unknown risk, there’s also the risk of being hit by another car on the road,” Alvarez said.
Right now they are unable to scan registrations and still have to hand-write crash reports. Which is also costing them money.
“Currently we’re paying $21,000 to have the current e-ticket system we have now,” Alvarez said.
Those thousands of dollars it takes to maintain their current system will be gone in a flash. Thanks to a grant they’ll be the first ones in Pima County to test out new and free software called AZTraCS that’ll cut down on roadside time and mistakes.
The reason for it’s zero dollar price tag? ADOT is partnering with MPD while they develop it and Alvarez says it’ll help ADOT to get more accurate reports and data.
“AZTraCS is going to allow us to reduce errors in our reports which means they’re going to be more accurate because they’re going to auto populate each of the fields we currently hand type in.”
Right now Alvarez said those errors are comprised of names being misspelled or incorrect phone numbers. Which increases the amount of time that supervisors have to spend reviewing the reports and correcting them.
AZTraCS will also allow them to scan registrations along with your license, putting that information directly into the computer and ADOT’s database.
“There’s going to be more support for the system that frees up the officer to actually do traffic related enforcement as opposed to being behind a computer adding data to it,” Alvarez said.
Keeping the flow of traffic moving on the road and behind the scenes will be one of the biggest perks for the police department.
But the driving force behind it is keeping both parties safe behind the wheel.
Alvarez said they expect the software to be up and running by the end of the year. The money they save will go towards other things like buying necessary equipment or training.
Currently other law enforcement agencies are using the same e-ticket system such as TPD and PCSD. Alvarez said he heard ADOT was in talks with the departments as well.
This is a federal pass-through grant from the Federal Highway Administration.