By Crystal Burns
With concentrated efforts on enforcing all traffic laws, the Trenton Police Department increased its citations in 2019, writing about 500 more tickets than the previous year.
Police Chief Bill Cusson presented the numbers to the Trenton Mayor and Board of Aldermen at the Jan. 14 City Council meeting. Cusson gave special recognition to Ptlm. Austin McDaniel, whom Cusson instated as traffic officer about mid-year. McDaniel works in problem and complaint areas, Cusson said.
“He’s just done an exceptional job,” Cusson said. “We’re wanting to continue with him in that position this year, and we’re really excited about that.”
The department issued 791 citations in 2018 and 1,294 in 2019. Arrests were also up from 293 in 2018 to 369 in 2019, which Cusson said was also largely due to McDaniel’s traffic enforcement as he often stopped drivers who were found to be driving on revoked or suspended licenses or with warrants against them.
“We don’t want Trenton to be known as a speed trap, but we do want Trenton to be known as a place where people are driving through, that they’re expected to obey the law,” Cusson said. “They’re expected to stop at stop signs. They’re expected to drive the speed limits. They’re expected to use turn signals, and the one that everybody’s talking about now is our hands-free driving.”
On July 1, 2019, Tennessee’s Hands Free Law (Public Chapter No. 412) took effect, requiring drivers to put down their phones and focus on the road.
Cusson noted that officers don’t issue citations at every traffic stop. He said on average, about every third vehicle receives a citation as officers are also in the “business of educating people.”
Cusson said the department’s reported incidents and operations were similar to the 2018 numbers. Incidents were up slightly from 1,025 to 1,294. Operations (the number of calls for service the department receives) dropped slightly from 4,696 to 4,669.
Cusson told the board that he is currently working on the Unified Crime Report (UCR) from 2017 to 2019. Certain crimes are reported to the state each year, and Cusson said he is looking for trends in Trenton. He will provide a copy of the report to the board once completed.
“I think it’s good information for us to have, especially as a chief because it’s going to help me determine where we really need to deploy our resources,” he said.