In conjunction with a plan to implement a statewide electronic ticketing system for traffic citations over the next few years, the California Highway Patrol (CHP) is starting a small-scale pilot program to move from the CHP’s current paper-based ticketing to processing traffic citations on handheld devices — a trend happening among law enforcement agencies nationwide, a CHP spokesman said.
California Highway Patrol CIO Reginald Chappelle would like to see each of California’s 58 counties use the system. Once the new system is in place, ticketing information processed through the handheld devices would be sent to California courts in 48 hours or less.
“It takes several weeks for paper copies to make it to the courts,” Chappelle said. “If it’s someone that you want to revoke their driving privilege for or get them into the court system as soon as possible, sometimes you’re held up by the [current system’s] clerical processing.”
Beginning Sept. 30, the CHP will begin a six-month test of 400 Motorola devices running Advanced Public Safety software. The pilot will include three court jurisdictions: one CHP office in Santa Clara County, another in San Bernardino County and three CHP offices in Orange County.
The mobile devices planned for the e-ticketing pilot include a thumb-print scanner, magnetic stripe reader, camera and a Windows operation system. In some cases, officers would use the camera and thumb-print scanner for identification verification.
The CHP received a $2.4 million grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety to complete the pilot in the three counties, with the goal of eliminating manual data entry from the CHP’s clerical staff into a more than 25-year-old legacy system. If the CHP eventually opts for a statewide rollout, it would cost another $22 million — funds California hasn’t secured yet.
Chappelle said writing tickets on mobile devices takes officers less than two minutes, whereas writing a paper ticket can take five to 10 minutes.
“Right now the process for paper citations is the officer goes out, they bring it back to a local office and the CHP clerical staff will enter that data into a legacy system on a little green-screen system. But it doesn’t capture all the fields from a citation,” Chappelle said.
The legacy system — because of limited memory — only captures the first two violations written on a single citation, so some of the forms were incomplete, according to Chappelle. The new e-ticketing solution would be able to record multiple violations on a single ticket. If the project goes statewide, Chappelle said the CPH will go back to the state Office of Traffic Safety for more funding to purchase the necessary hardware and software to run the handheld citation devices. To adequately equip the CHP’s 7,000 officers, an additional 3,500 devices would need to be purchased.