E-ticket project gets tentative approval

ALBANY, Ga. -- A divided Albany City Commission narrowly approved a measure Tuesday that will allow the Albany Police Department to participate in a statewide pilot program that will integrate new technology into local traffic enforcement.

With a 4-3 vote, the commission tenatively gave the go-ahead for Albany Police Chief John Proctor and the APD to be one of a handful of cities across the state to participate in a program sponsored by the Governor's Office of Highway Safety that uses portable computers to create digital versions of traffic tickets, which are then uploaded directly into state court.

The hesitation on the part of the three dissenting commissioners -- Mayor Pro Tem Christopher Pike and Commissioners Dorothy Hubbard and Bob Langstaff -- comes largely out of concern about the longterm effect on revenues from traffic tickets.

"I think I would just like some more information about this program and how it could affect our budget if all of the tickets are going to state court," Pike said.

The program, Proctor said, could help the department streamline its traffic enforcement, making it more efficient and allowing for stepped-up enforcement.

"The hope is that it will help us process tickets quicker, make the officers perform quicker and be more responsive, and make our department more efficient," Proctor said. "Which would translate into savings and increased enforcement."

The commission will officially vote on the matter at its business meeting on June 29. If it passes then, the city will spend $25,000 to purchase the necessary technology from the state, which includes the mobile computers for 10 cars as well as the interface with the state court system.