Dallas Pushing Expanded Video of Traffic Violations

The Dallas Municipal Court could soon stream video of traffic violations to use in court if violators try to fight tickets.

A briefing to Dallas City Council Monday said the Dallas Municipal Court is already investing in technology to stream police video directly to the courthouse.

Currently, police dash cam video is available from about 60 percent of Dallas traffic stops.

The goal is to have 100 percent through the added use of police shirt cameras and cameras mounted on police motorcycles.

The city plans to make citations with video instantly available online to encourage violators to pay fines rapidly.

Attorneys who work in traffic court said the video could help clients prove their cases, too

“I think it’s a great idea to protect the citizens and make it a more just, compelling system,” attorney Raul Loya said.

“Many times it turns out that what’s being said by an officer is not necessarily what happened in the field. So I’m looking forward to having that done because I think it’s going to streamline things even more,” attorney James Mongaras said.

Municipal court has been under pressure from city hall to increase collection rates, dismiss fewer tickets and move trial dockets faster.

The briefing said court administration has been making progress on all those goals and drastically reduced the number of police officers called to court.

Part of the improvement has been credited to electronic ticket writing devices officers are using now.

The devices reduce errors and post the citation in court records faster.

Attorney Roger Fuller said he has worked at Dallas Municipal Court for about 30 years and it has become more efficient.

“They’re quicker, certainly a lot quicker,” Fuller said. “Used to be six months to a year from the traffic stop and the court date. Now it’s down to about six weeks maybe.”

Fuller said new court procedures have made it more difficult to fight a citation.

“They make you come down two or three times before your actual trial date and most people lose interest before then,” Fuller said.

Fuller questioned how useful more video would be.

“My experience with the video is usually they don’t turn it on until after the offense is committed and it simply records the stop,” Fuller said.

Pre-event technology is available on police cameras to record what the camera saw in a variable amount of time before an officer turns it on.

Dallas City Councilmember Phillip Kingston said the committee that reviewed the Municipal Court briefing Monday generally endorsed expanded availability of video for traffic court but did not discuss details.

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