By Moses Leos III
People living in Buda are getting more tickets, as opposed to people traveling through the town.
But overall, both Buda and Kyle Police Departments cited fewer drivers for traffic violations from 2013 to 2014.
The information was presented in both departments’ annual racial profiling report, which is required by the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure. It lists incident based data, which includes the number of citations written, violations to motorists and the race of those stopped.
According to the Buda Police Department’s statistics, the number of people cited during the year for traffic offenses decreased by 119 citations.
“We did notice that in this year’s report, compared to last year, a higher percentage of residents are being cited,” Buda Police Chief Bo Kidd said. “We attribute that to more traffic requests and complaints.”
According to Kidd, more complaints of traffic related issues are being filed online. Buda Police would then target those areas if enough complaints are filed.
He’s noticed that the growth of subdivisions has led to more responses for controlling traffic issues.
Many of the complaints stem from speeding in neighborhoods to people running stop signs. It’s led the department to write a majority of citations within residential areas, as opposed to IH-35.
Also decreasing were the number of searches conducted by the Buda Police Department. Only 52 searches were conducted in 2014, all with probable cause, according to Kidd.
“What that tells me is that the officer, for them to have probable cause, they either see something, or smell something, or the K-9 unit smells something,” Kidd said.
He said the breakdown of the 2014 racial profiling report hasn’t changed. In addition, the department did not receive any racial profiling complaints.
Helping Buda Police has been the use of its body worn cameras, which were approved by the Buda City Council last year.
Kidd said the use of the cameras, primarily their placement on glasses or ball caps, has helped with documenting traffic stops and offenses. He said they provide a higher level of accuracy to coincide with an officer’s report.
“There’s no greater tool than the body worn cameras,” Kidd said. “We are all about truth and justice. They (body worn cameras) are defenders of the truth.”
The Kyle Police Department conducted 811 fewer total traffic stops over the previous year. Officers wrote 836 fewer traffic tickets. In addition, the department had no racial profiling complaints.
But the department conducted 71 more searches from 2013 to 2014. Officers also conducted 50 more arrests.
Kyle Police Chief Jeff Barnett attributed the decline in total stops and citations to the addition of police motorcycles and traffic officers. Use of funds from the STEP grant during select months helped put more officers on the roadway.
Barnett said most of the city’s stops were conducted in residential neighborhoods and school zones, as well as along the IH-35 corridor.
He said officer presence improved “driver awareness and roadway safety.” While congestion grows on Center Street, Barnett said, it’s helped slow traffic speed in downtown.
“As our community continues to grow and adds more vehicles, it gives fewer opportunities for people to speed,” he said.