Uptick in tickets issued may help SF budget


"I think it's out of control," says Rob, who works on the Broadway strip.

Rob says he notices police write a lot of tickets and tow away cars along the street, especially on Friday and Saturday nights.

"It's like if somebody on the street, if someone stole your car and says, 'Hey, you got to pay $400 and I'll give you your car back.' That's what they're doing. It's the other side. It's criminal," says Rob.

San Francisco Police Deputy Chief John Murphy admits that the deployment of violence reduction units two years ago in high crime areas like North Beach and the Tenderloin caused a spike in the number of traffic tickets written since 2008.

"So the officers were stopping the vehicles, they're taking the conveyance away and by taking that conveyance away, they were preventing drive by shootings," says Murphy.

The units helped put a little over $1 million or more into the city's coffers by ticketing, towing, and impounding vehicles, but lowering the city's budget deficit wasn't the goal.

"Was that some kind of plot to increase revenue for the city? I can sit here and say, absolutely not," says Murphy.

A report in Thursday's Wall Street Journal states that in the first four months of 2010 the SFPD issued some 50,000 traffic tickets. That's a jump of nearly one third over the 38,000 tickets issued in the first four months of 2008.

Police officers ABC7 spoke to say they don't think they have been issuing more tickets, but they know most of the money goes to the state.

The state gets 50 percent of all traffic ticket revenue. The city gets only 20 percent. City residents like Stephano Cassolato defend the police ticketing people who scoff at traffic laws.

"Yes, I think there is an increased awareness on public safety," said Cassolato.

Police say that traffic tickets may have gone up recently, but violent crime in the city is down.

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