TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Anyone who has ever received a traffic ticket, has probably thought about contesting it - and not least because he or she couldn't read the officer's handwriting on it.
"Right now we have the officer out in the field entering data by hand," Administrative Judge Vic Miller, with Topeka's Municipal Court, said. "That's subject to the legibility of his handwriting. It's not the best of conditions out there to be writing."
"You have a lot of legibility problems. You see a number of tickets where we don't even know who the officer is," Miller said. "Those tickets, if somebody contests it, would be very difficult to see them through."
Topeka's Municipal Court and the Police Department are now seeking to make those handwritten tickets a thing of the past.
Miller says converting to an electronic citation system, or e-ticketing, with portable devices and mobile computers, could reduce errors and duplication.
With e-ticketing, a citation issued into a portable system digitally transfers the ticket's data to where it's needed.
"The benefits then trickle down in that once that data is entered in the field there's not the need for us in the clerk's ffice to re-enter it for our purposes, and the need for the prosecution to re-enter it for their purposes," Miller said.
A study completed in 2009 by the Topeka Performance Management Office found that e-ticketing could cut the average time to issue a citation in half.
The study reported that at the clerk's office, the time to process, including sorting, data entry, scanning could be reduced by 80 percent.
At the prosecutor's office, another possible savings of 80 percent or more in manhours.
The court and the Topeka Police Department have asked Topeka's city council to consider the initiative in next year's budget.
Deputy Mayor Larry Wolgast said he could see the benefits of such a system. "It's much more accurate, it allows for the officers to do other things. So it sounds like it would be such a good idea. The little issue is, it's expensive. It's a major cost immediately," he said.
Miller is asking for a $300,000 dollar investment, an amount he says would be offset over time with efficiencies and could translate into staff reductions at the court. However it would be difficult to quantify the savings until the system is in place, he said.
"For us, it would free up a lot of clerk time, that we currently are in need of to catch up on some projects that have gone waiting, while we do our day to day work," he said.
13 News reached out to Emporia and Lawrence, two cities that are using e-ticket systems.
Emporia's Police Department would not comment saying only that it was having some issues with it, while a spokesman with the Lawrence Police Department said that it has been working well for the force in the past few years and its officers prefer it.