EDITOR’S NOTE: We asked Wess Winn, community services officer and crime prevention coordinator with the Waxahachie Police Department to write a weekly column in an effort to answer many of the law enforcement-related questions posed by our readers. Here’s this week’s column.
I regularly hear people making comments regarding the reason we write citations and/or seize items from people committing felony acts. Many people think writing citations is the way the police department funds itself. This is far from the truth.
First of all, the fine amounts given to violators also have a state tax. For example, a “no seatbelt” citation has a fine amount of $50, a state tax of $92 and a $5 law enforcement fee, which is applied to each fine. The citation total is $147, but only $55 will go into the city’s general fund.
Another common violation is speeding that has a total fine amount of $180.10. The state receives $92.10 of the fine which leaves around $87 for the city’s general fund.
Running a red light or stop sign will cost the driver $215.10, and the city’s general fund will receive $118. The state tax ranges from a high of $117.10 to a low of $9 with the average amount around $90, which means the state is getting a big chunk of the fine.
Approximately 55-60 percent of the people receiving citations actually pay their fines and many times they are reduced because they are first time offenders. Therefore, if you look at the big picture there is not a whole lot of money to be made in writing citations. Our city has had a budget of over $23 million the last few years and on average they take in approximately $400,000 in fines. This is not a real big percentage of the overall budget.
Finally, you have heard me mention the money paid goes into the general fund. This is not the Police Department Fund, but the city’s general fund which helps pay for street repairs, signs, cemetery services, etc.
If someone is arrested while dealing drugs and they have cash in their possession, it is seized by the police department. If a person evades arrest while driving their vehicle we can seize it (the vehicle) as long as there is no lien on it. Also, if a house is being used to manufacture drugs we can seize the house as long as there is no lien on it. Most of the seized property is auctioned off, and the District Attorney receives a small percentage of anything seized. The bulk of this money will go directly to the police department’s “Seized Funds Account,” and we are authorized to use the funds to buy items to help us fight crime and pay salaries in some instances.
FYI-You can now text a tip to Crime Stoppers by sending your tip to 274637 (CRIMES) then type Hachie (space) tip.
Wess Winn holds a master peace officer certification. If you have a Police Beat question for Officer Wess Winn, he may be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 469-309-4410. Look for your questions to be answered here in the Waxahachie Daily Light every Sunday or listen to officer Winn’s show on KBEC Radio AM 1390 at 9 a.m. every Monday.