City purchases digital traffic ticket system

By RICHARD LUKEN
Register Reporter

Iola police officers soon will take a big step away from manually writing out traffic tickets.
City commissioners approved Tuesday the purchase of a digiTICKET system, which electronically records driver’s license and citation information with a few keystrokes and the swipe of a hand-held scanner.
The new system should drastically shorten the time officers are engaged during traffic stops, predicted Chief of Police Jared Warner and Shawn Sicking, product manager for the Tulsa, Okla., company, anyware Mobile Solutions, which will oversee the digiTICKET program.
According to figures provided by Sicking, an officer may spend anywhere from two to three minutes using the electronic ticketing program, regardless of the number of citations he issues. With the current handwritten tickets, a typical traffic stop runs from five to 10 minutes, or even longer if multiple citations are issued.
The electronic data will be transferred to a central database, Warner said, where it can be further accessed for police records and the municipal court system without having to enter, and then re-enter, the information into a computer.
The department will get three handheld scanners, three mobile printers and other accessories at a cost of $17,707.46. The city will pay an additional management fee of $1,025 annually for years two through five of the five-year agreement.
Sicking said technicians will provide training and maintenance.
The purchase price includes a $5,125 discount offered to the city because Iola would be the first such community in the state to go to the e-ticketing program, Sicking said.
Sicking cited other advantages to the digiTICKET. The electronic information is less likely to be “lost” or dismissed because it contains inaccurate information; while additional information, such as photo images, can be stored on the scanner.
The added efficiency and added revenue from writing more citations could be worth a potential $53,000 in added revenue, Sicking said.
Commissioner Craig Abbott quizzed Sicking on a number of issues, including reliability of the system and service calls. He noted that the digiTICKET system was developed in 2008 and launched in a handful of Oklahoma communities.
Sicking said any service to the scanners or software can be done remotely via his home office in Tulsa. He anticipated the service going online in Iola within the next month.

THE CITY is the new owner of the Iola Area Chamber of Commerce’s Molly Trolley.
Commissioners agreed to a proposal from the Chamber to assume ownership, and then lease the trolley back to the committee for $1 a year. The committee will continue to pay for repairs, taxes and insurance.
Having the city own the vehicle, and lease it to the committee, will mean a drastic savings for insurance, Trolley Committee member Donna Houser said. “We’ll have to pay only about one-eighth what we had been paying for insurance,” she said.
Commissioners were approached in December about assuming ownership, but delayed a decision until hearing from City Attorney Chuck Apt.
Apt said his biggest concern was any potential liability for the city through the trolley. Houser noted that the insurance for the vehicle would be provided by the Iola Area Chamber of Commerce.
Abbott said his only previous hesitation about taking over the trolley — whether it would generate enough revenue to pay for its upkeep and insurance without added city funds — has been answered resoundingly.
The trolley is a popular attraction at various community events and for Halloween and Christmas tours and other private functions.