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Des Moines police to start issuing drivers written warnings at traffic stops

According to Chief Dana Wingert, the program is meant to complement data on traffic stops resulting in arrests or citations

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By Sarah Roebuck

DES MOINES, Iowa — In an effort to better capture data on who officers pull over for traffic stops, the Des Moines Police Department will be issuing written warnings to drivers rather than giving verbal warnings, the Des Moines Register reports.

The electronic warning citation program is a tool used to gather more data on traffic violations and share it with the public. The program is being implemented from a special order issued back in October by Chief Dana Wingert. It is intended to complement data on traffic stops resulting in arrests or citations.

According to Sgt. Paul Parizek, a police spokesperson, the tool in question is a component of a larger state-issued system utilized by the department for issuing traffic warnings, citations and completing crash reports.

Parizek said the electronic warning tool is not designed to replace the police department’s Electronic Citation Component, which is their existing traffic ticketing system. Instead, it acts as a complementary tool for addressing minor driving offenses like a burnt-out headlight or expired registration.

This data-driven approach facilitates a more comprehensive analysis of traffic stop encounters, ultimately leading to improved insights and understanding, Parizek said.

As per the order from the chief, officers are no longer allowed to solely give verbal warnings during a traffic stop unless authorized by a supervisor. If a written warning is not issued, officers are required to document the reason for their decision. This measure ensures proper accountability and transparency in the handling of traffic stops.

A copy of the written warning must be given to the driver, Parizek said.