By Patty Santos, Published 6:07 PM CDT Aug 26, 2016
UNION CITY, Okla. —Small police departments are relying on multiple layers of technology to help them eliminate mistakes and protect victims.
This week, Union City Police Chief Richard Stephens said one particular device is paying off for his department.
In July, one of his police officers made a routine traffic stop, but the driver was not carrying a driver’s license and gave him conflicting information about her identity.
“He took several minutes to determine what her actual date of birth was and what she wanted to stick with,” Stephens said. “He finally found a driver's license with that name and date of birth. They processed her citations for that day.”
The officer used a digiTICKET system to write the ticket, which also captured the woman’s picture.
“One of the biggest benefits, in my opinion, in using an electronic citation like this is at the time of the stop, we capture an image of the driver so we can prove who was in the car at the time,” Stephens said.
Union City rents four of the devices for about $900 a month. The company that makes the devices is based in Tulsa and has about 50 agencies around the state that use them.
Stephens said his investment paid off.
About a month after that traffic stop, warrants were issued for the unpaid tickets and a letter was sent out. The woman’s sister showed up telling police she did not get that ticket.
“She said my sister has done this to me before,” Stephens said, explaining the suspect used her sister's identity to avoid being arrested.
A quick check of the photo associated with the ticket cleared her.
“To me, one of the most important things is it was able to clear this lady up she didn’t have warrants to take care of. Her driver’s license isn’t being suspended,” Stephens said.
The suspect in the traffic stop has been identified as Laquita Poncho, 40. She faces multiple counts, including fraud. A warrant is being issued for her arrest.
Other agencies that use digiTICKET around the metro area include Piedmont, Newcastle, Bethany, Guthrie, Chickasha, Tuttle, Blanchard, Minco and Ninnekah.
Stephens said the use of the device allows officers to give out tickets in about three minutes versus the traditional method, which takes up to 10 minutes.