Controversy Over Bakken Area Traffic Citations Leads To Trooper's Resignation

An investigative report by the Bismarck Tribune suggests that philosophical differences between the North Dakota State Patrol Superintendent and a state trooper led to the trooper's resignation after ten years of service.

Traffic Citations Linked to Alleged Decreases in Traffic Deaths

The superintendent pushes troopers to write more tickets, asserting that the practice ultimately reduces traffic deaths across the Bakken region and beyond. However, the resigning trooper disagreed. He believed that a trooper's visible presence on the roads, along with warnings, actually reduces accidents. His attorney argues that troopers require more latitude to better perform their duties.

Policy Reduces Trooper Discretion

In contrast, the superintendent believed that the trooper was simply not working hard enough. The state patrol's policy manual is now very specific about which offenses require citations and which ones require warnings. At issue is a requirement that anyone without proof of insurance receive a traffic citation. The trooper that resigned simply wrote so-called non-active citations in many such instances from April 2014 to February 2015. He asserted that he was using his discretion to give some motorists a break. By refusing to write active citations in such proof-of-insurance cases, he ran afoul of state patrol policy.

Controversy Over Alleged Quotas

There were other issues as well that resulted in the trooper being required to write a minimum of 42 active traffic citations per month. There are claims that this amounted to a de facto quota policy, but the state patrol superintendent denied the accusation.

Refusal to Prosecute

Ultimately, the trooper in question said that the pressure to write citations pushed him to falsify records to achieve the required number of citations. However, the state patrol launched a criminal investigation. It then turned its investigative material over to the Burleigh County State's Attorney, but he declined to prosecute the trooper.

After nine years in law enforcement preceded by six years in the Air Force, the former trooper has decided to leave the public sector for good.

Odegard Miller Law handles workers comp and personal injury cases throughout the Bakken region. When a workplace or traffic accident occurs, please contact us for assistance.