Those caught speeding through the Town of Purcellville or otherwise breaking the law will be paying a bit extra when they get a ticket.
The Town Council last week voted unanimously to add a section to the Town Code to allow the Loudoun County General District to impose an additional $5 penalty for traffic and criminal convictions that violate the town ordinance. Those fees will pay for the Purcellville Police Department’s purchase of an eCitation system, which will give officers the ability to enter information electronically by scanning the barcode of an offender’s driver’s license, use drop-down menus to enter violations and print citations using wireless printers with secure WiFi connections in their cruisers.
Police Chief Cynthia McAlister said that, because officers won’t be handwriting tickets anymore, there will be “a lot less human error.”
Officer Barry Dufek, who spearheaded the project about a year ago, said electronic systems would also cut back on the time it takes for officers to issue tickets—from five minutes down to about 45 seconds.
Dufek said that Tyler Technologies would be installing the systems in police cruisers for $2,320 apiece. He said that while the project would be implemented in phases, the department is looking to have two systems installed by the end of this year.
Since two officers can share a unit, it will eventually cost the town nearly $20,000 to provide all 17 of the sworn police officers it currently employs, not including Chief Cynthia McAlister or Deputy Chief Dave Dailey, with the system. The town should be able to pay that cost back in less than three years. The department issued 1,008 citations in 2017 and 904 in 2018—enough to generate $9,560 in extra revenue with the new fee.
The department estimates that it will write about 750 tickets in the second half of 2019, which would allow the town to pull in $3,750 from the added fees by Dec. 31, recouping all but $860 of the cost to install the first two systems before year’s end. “I think we truly are going to save money and save taxpayer dollars,” Dufek said.
The county Sheriff’s Office began using an eCitation system six years ago and got the Board of Supervisors’ approval to impose the extra $5 fee on guilty verdicts last year.
The Leesburg Police Department still handwrites citations, but Public Information Officer Sam Shenouda said the department is eyeing eCitations.
Middleburg Police Chief A.J. Panebianco said his department has no current plans to implement an electronic system.
Virginia jurisdictions are allowed to assess the extra fee under a law the General Assembly adopted in 2014 that authorizes counties, cities and towns to assess an up to $5 additional fee on guilty verdicts to finance the purchase of hardware, software and other equipment associated with eCitation systems.