20/20’ looks at Warren tickets,
police driving habits

Segment set to air at 10 p.m. May 16 on ABC

By Brian C. Louwers
C & G Staff Writer

WARREN — On the heels of a local television report focused on traffic citations given by Warren police for disobeying stop signs — and also, on video taken of police allegedly doing the same thing — Mayor Jim Fouts took questions from a reporter with ABC News’ “20/20” on May 12.

In a statement released through Fouts’ office, officials said the interview covered three topics related to traffic tickets in Warren. The mayor reportedly took questions about a specific Warren police officer and the “large” number of tickets he had written for failing to stop at stop signs. Fouts also addressed how the tickets had been handled by judges of the 37th District Court, as well as video reportedly taken by an investigative team for ABC’s local affiliate, WXYZ Channel 7, which appeared to show officers in marked city of Warren police vehicles driving through stop signs without stopping completely.

The local television report questioned whether a “double standard” existed for drivers in Warren.

Fouts said last week that police, serving under the department’s leaders tapped by his administration, would be required to follow the same traffic laws as the rest of the city’s motorists.

“The police commissioner (William Dwyer) is going to take care of it. I discussed it with him, and we’re not going to tolerate any officers who think they are above the law,” Fouts said. “The commissioner believes it is a small minority of people who are doing it.”

With obvious exceptions — using emergency equipment to traverse intersections, for example, in the event of an emergency — Fouts said police on patrol must adhere to the state’s laws governing motor vehicles.

And if they do not?

“The policy is, there will be repercussions,” Fouts added. “Police officers have to follow the rule of law, just like anybody else. We want them to be good examples, not bad examples.”

As for the number of tickets being written by some officers, and the adjudication of those cases in the district court, Fouts offered the following explanation.

“We have more police patrolling the neighborhoods. If you have more police patrols, and more visibility, you’re going to have more tickets,” Fouts said.

Deputy Warren Police Commissioner Jere Green said the officer in question, David Kanapsky, is assigned to conduct traffic enforcement eight hours a day. He said the local television report cited no wrongdoing on Kanapsky’s part.

Green added that any lack of compliance with the state’s traffic laws had been addressed through two separate departmental orders issued since May 1.

“We’re obviously concerned about the public’s perception of the Police Department. It affects our ability to deliver service, the service the citizens deserve,” Green said. “The goal is not to be punitive. The goal is to save lives, period.

“Universally, just about every survey that’s done in communities, what do you think the biggest concern is? They don’t say larcenies or stolen cars. The biggest problem is traffic.”

Green pointed out that money generated through traffic tickets doesn’t come back to the Police Department.

“If the insinuation is that this makes money, that just isn’t true,” Green said. “All of that money goes back to the district court.”
You can reach Staff Writer Brian C. Louwers at brianlouwers@candgnews.com or at (586) 498-1089.