Is HEAT team cooling down on speeders?
An interesting document found its way to me recently. It comes from within the Maryland Transportation Authority Police and it lays out the enforcement activity undertaken by the force's Special Operations Division HEAT TEAM -- a unit that patrols certain sections of Interstate 95, state toll facilities and other roads in unmarked vehicles.
The statistics, as of Dec. 5, show some interesting trends. Members of the team have been far more likely this year to give warnings than traffic tickets. Last year, the number of warnings (2820) and the number of citations (2622) were running about even. This year, the number of warnings (3160) was almost double the number of citations. Does this indicate the MdTA Police are getting soft on speeders? Or are they trying to cut down on court overtime hours, which are running at about half last year's level?
Also interesting is that the number of traffic stops during which the team conducts searches is up sharply from year to year -- from 176 in 2008 to 319 in 2009. That has resulted in more felony drug arrests this year (26) compared with six last year and an increase in misdemeanor drug arrests. But arrests on outstanding warrants and on serious traffic charges are down significantly.
Members of the transportation authority police have been reluctant to speak out since former Chief Gary McLhinney drummed Officer George Tarburton out of law enforcement because Tarburton blew the whistle on lax port security. But it certainly would be interesting to hear the story behind these numbers.