You are not alone if you are feeling like everyone driving around in Door and Kewaunee Counties are speeding. According to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, speeding is by far the most common traffic violation with over 142,000 convictions in 2014. The number climbs to almost 150,000 if you include people ticketed for driving too fast for conditions. Whether you get pulled over going three or 33 miles per hour over the speed limit, Kewaunee County Sheriff Matt Joski says you are getting pulled over for everyone’s sake.
Joski says drivers pulled over should treat traffic stops like they are part of ongoing education of the rules of the road.
FROM SHERIFF MATT JOSKI
The last time I visited the issue of Speed Enforcement our now College Senior Daughter was preparing to get her license. Now as our youngest is getting close to the age for driving many of the same conversations take place as he observes the driving habits on our public roads and asks the same questions “Does anyone drive the speed limit?”
I can see where he may doubt the adherence to speed limits as it seems as though when you drive the speed limit of other vehicles exist in two forms: Those who are passing you and those preparing to pass you. While it is true that very few people are actually stopped for operating 2 or 3 miles per hour over the speed limit, one should never assume that you will not be stopped.
This conversation also prompted us to discuss what is known as “Officer Discretion” as it pertains to traffic law. I explained to my son that law enforcement officers are much like teachers. Our primary goal is education; our lesson plans are the rules of the road. We educate through traffic stops. If an individual is speeding or failing to stop at a stop sign, we have the ability to educate through various means including verbal warnings, written warnings or citations.
While it is up to the individual motorist whether or not to abide by the laws, it is within our discretion to adjust the educational level based on what we feel would have the best results. For example; if a driver has never been stopped for a violation or has a mitigating reason for the violation, we may begin with a verbal warning. If that same driver was observed demonstrating a continued disregard for the law, we may feel it appropriate to elevate the educational experience to a written warning or even a citation. In the end it is up to the motorists to decide if they wish to engage in an educational experience with Law Enforcement, as we hold classes on all roadways 7 days a week 364 days of the year.
What is important in our role as educators is our relationship to the community we have sworn to protect. We understand that traffic stops are not a pleasant experience, and that the cost of a citation in today’s economy can be a major setback in anyone’s budget. We exist for the sole purpose of serving and protecting our communities so as to maintain a high quality of life for all.
We do not do this to you, we do not do this for you; we do this with you as we need the continued feedback and interaction to know whether or not we are successful. These duties and beliefs do not end at the roadway, as we are summoned for numerous reasons to homes or workplaces in response to various calls for service, and it is our obligation in these settings as well to respond and apply the laws which govern our societies and maintain the quality of life we have come to enjoy.
I have said many times that local law enforcement is very fortunate to serve the communities that we serve, but in addition, I hope that our communities appreciate the quality of those who are serving them as well. It is only through this mutual appreciation that we can continue to be an effective team in meeting the challenges of the future.