Columbia traffic tickets to go electronic

Dressing in their holiday best at Monday’s city council meeting are, from left, front row, accounting director Linda Sharp, ward IV alderman Mary Ellen Niemietz, Columbia EMS director Kim Lamprecht and Columbia Deputy Police Chief Jason Donjon; and back row: ward III alderman Gene Ebersohl, ward III alderman Jeff Huch, city administrator Jimmy Morani, Community and Economic Development director Scott Dunakey, Columbia Police Chief Jerry Paul, Mayor Kevin Hutchinson, ward II alderman Kevin Martens and city clerk Wes Hoeffken. (Andrea Saathoff photo)

The Columbia City Council on Monday agreed to a Memorandum of Understanding with the Monroe County Circuit Clerk’s office to implement digiTicket in CPD cars. The two will share the cost of installing an electronic system in 19 vehicles at a cost of $58.037. The county will pay for about two-thirds of the cost.

With digiTICKET, tickets are printed in officers’ cars through the city’s dispatch system, rather than officers hand-writing tickets.

“It is a lot more efficient for the officer,” Columbia Police Chief Jerry Paul told the council in October, when introducing the digital ticket system. “(It decreases) the amount of time they have to spend on the side of the road, it’s safer, they can conduct their business then pull away from the stop. It’s the same thing for the violator.”

The system will also immediately alert officers to information they currently have to call dispatch to receive, like suspended or revoked drivers licenses, prior DUIs, warrants, orders of protection, known gang affiliation, sex offender status and more.

Dispatchers, who most often work alone and frequently must handle multiple calls at a time, will still be needed to verify certain types of information.

For the average, non-eventful traffic stop, the officer and violator can conceivably be on their way in a matter of minutes after the initial stop, rather than the 15 minutes of the average stop today.

The system will cost $4,870 annually to maintain, which the city will pay. 

The city council also approved a resolution to issue $8 million in bonds for Budnick Converting’s expansion.

“The federal government allows certain capital projects for small manufacturing companies to be financed with tax-exempt interest rates.  Tax-exempt bonds can only be issued by a governmental entity,” said Sean Flynn of Gilmore & Bell, a public finance law firm working with Budnick.

Although the city is obtaining the $8 million in bonds, Budnick will be solely responsible for all payments on the bonds and no city funds or its credit will be at risk.  

The next meeting of the city council will meet Jan. 7.

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Andrea is a graduate of Gibault High School and the University of Missouri School of Journalism, the University of Missouri Harry S Truman School of Public Affairs and Southern Illinois University Edwardsville College of Education. She lives in Columbia with her husband and their twin toddler sons. When she isn't cheering on St. Louis Cardinals baseball or riding the emotional roller coaster of Mizzou Tigers football, she enjoys attending and participating in the many family events the county has to offer. email: