An investigative report by the
Bismarck Tribune suggests that philosophical differences between the North Dakota State
Patrol Superintendent and a state trooper led to the trooper's resignation
after ten years of service.
Traffic Citations Linked to Alleged Decreases in Traffic Deaths
The superintendent pushes troopers to write more tickets, asserting that
the practice ultimately reduces traffic deaths across the
Bakken region and beyond. However, the resigning trooper disagreed. He believed
that a trooper's visible presence on the roads, along with warnings,
actually reduces accidents. His attorney argues that troopers require
more latitude to better perform their duties.
Policy Reduces Trooper Discretion
In contrast, the superintendent believed that the trooper was simply not
working hard enough. The state patrol's policy manual is now very
specific about which offenses require citations and which ones require
warnings. At issue is a requirement that anyone without proof of insurance
receive a traffic citation. The trooper that resigned simply wrote so-called
non-active citations in many such instances from April 2014 to February
2015. He asserted that he was using his discretion to give some motorists
a break. By refusing to write active citations in such proof-of-insurance
cases, he ran afoul of state patrol policy.
Controversy Over Alleged Quotas
There were other issues as well that resulted in the trooper being required
to write a minimum of 42 active traffic citations per month. There are
claims that this amounted to a de facto quota policy, but the state patrol
superintendent denied the accusation.
Refusal to Prosecute
Ultimately, the trooper in question said that the pressure to write citations
pushed him to falsify records to achieve the required number of citations.
However, the state patrol launched a criminal investigation. It then turned
its investigative material over to the Burleigh County State's Attorney,
but he declined to prosecute the trooper.
After nine years in law enforcement preceded by six years in the Air Force,
the former trooper has decided to leave the public sector for good.
Odegard Brauckman Law handles workers comp and personal injury cases throughout
the Bakken region. When a workplace or traffic accident occurs, please
contact us for assistance.