With only three available cars, Columbia Township Police officers can be spread pretty thinly during patrols. Taking one car out for several hours a week doesn't help.
"The officers write tickets the day before and we have to trip all the way up to Jackson to deliver tickets to the court," said Columbia Township Police Chief David Elwell on the everyday routine.
According to Elwell, it's a problem faced by several of Jackson County's outlying townships and communities. It's also the main reason why the county is moving to a new e-ticketing system in patrol cars.
With the help of a $100,000 grant from the Jackson Traffic Safety Program, 62 patrol cars from nearly every local department and the Jackson County Sheriff's Office will be fitted with the new system. County Undersheriff Chris Khul says it'll feed ticket information through a county server, streamlining the ticket-writing process.
"We can increase the accuracy that we're getting on the traffic citations," said Khul. "We can seamlessly transmit those to the District Court almost immediately."
Elwell says it should allow officers to save several hours of patrol time a year.
A copy of the grant application uses the Jackson County Sheriff's Office as an example, claiming a five percent increase in productivity would result in 437 more tickets being written, generating more than $43,000 a year.
While that may not sound good to drivers, Elwell thinks those he's sworn to protect won't mind in the long run.
"Their patrol car that patrols their area and helps keep them safe is not going to be gone from the township, driving to the courthouse and coming back," he said.
Even so, Elwell says it's not about money, but making sure his officers aren't wasting time. Elwell hopes to have the e-ticketing system installed by the end of the year.