Police Training for an e-ticket or traffic e-summons program in Virginia

A summary based on the report of the Virginia State Police to the Virginia General Assembly. This includes actual costs and how the training was implemented for the e-ticket program in Virginia.

The Virginia State Police received $1,941,258 (FY 2019 through FY 2020) for the development and implementation of a pilot project to evaluate an electronic summons (E-Summons or E-ticket) application in the Northern Virginia region.

In 2019, the final contract was signed and implementation began with the selection of 100 troopers and supervisors for program testing and product evaluation. Each of the selected participants was issued updated mobile computer hardware that would enable them to operate the application software necessary for the pilot project. Each computer included technology that would allow the trooper to scan the driver’s license and the vehicle registration to automatically populate the required data fields on the Virginia Uniform Summons. Additionally, each participant was issued a thermal printer to produce the required paper copy of the summons for issuance to the violator.

Data on work activity prior to the pilot project implementation indicated that the average amount of time a trooper spent for traffic violations in the region was approximately 26 minutes per summons. By comparison, the average amount of time troopers spent issuing a traffic summons through the ESummons application was 10 minutes per summons. This represents a 62 percent reduction in time.

All costs associated with the necessary training for the 100 project participants were absorbed by the VSP. These expenses involved four days of “train the trainer” in the hardware, software, and system functionality and also include the time each VSP trainer spent instructing other program participants to ensure they were proficient in the application and all operations. Total training costs were approximately $135,163.00.

Training for the e-ticket program

The E-Summons Pilot Project was officially launched in September, 2019, with the first session of a train-the-trainer classroom instruction. Day one of the training addressed the technical operation of the equipment and the functionality of the ESummons software. The second day of the training was actual field application and the issuance of electronic summonses for uploading and transmission to the Virginia Supreme Court and to the specific court for adjudication.

With the implementation of the E-Summons application there was immediate positive feedback from the participating troopers. Following the first day of actual enforcement and electronic production of the Virginia Traffic Summons one of the participants stated, “This is a game changer!” The level of efficiency gained through the application was immediately recognized for improving personal safety for all involved by reducing the time required to issue a summons. For troopers, the simple ability to know whether a person had been previously given a summons or a warning by another trooper was one of the most commented on features of the E-Summons program. Following the first week of implementation with the first of the selected troopers operating the E-Summons program, approximately 500 traffic summons were uploaded to the Virginia Supreme Court for processing by the General District Courts.

A review to determine the number and degree of errors revealed the error rate was less than one tenth of one percent. The errors committed (the wrong court was inadvertently selected) were easily corrected by the courts once the record was in their case management system. The Virginia Supreme Court was also contacted following the first data upload to determine if any of the participating courts experienced problems or concerns regarding any aspect of the project. No issues were raised by any jurisdiction.

Evaluation of the E-ticket Program

The E-Summons Pilot Project was met with a high level of enthusiasm and support by the troopers and supervisors that participated. The activity reports generated through the E-Summons program’s software benefited troopers, supervisors, managers, and administrators. With this program, troopers are able to quickly search all of the summonses they issue, including their individual notes regarding the stop, in a digital environment.

Previously, they had to conduct hand searches of their own paper copies to do so. Preliminary findings from software testing indicate supervisors are able to review trooper work activities and monitor enforcement with respect to the strategic allocation of resources to address highway safety needs with increased manpower efficiency.

Costs of the E-ticket Program

The cost to produce the violator and court copies of the summons for an E-Summons is a slight increase from the pre-printed form currently used throughout the ranks of the VSP. The Virginia Supreme Court requires that the paper used to print the hard copy of the E-Summons have a twenty year shelf life for record keeping. The E-Summons project uses a special thermal paper to meet this requirement. A single roll of paper enables a trooper to generate approximately 40 summonses. Each roll costs six dollars. This equates to fifteen cents per summons. The comparative cost to issue a summons using the current paper version with handwritten information is nine cents per summons. Considering the pilot division issued over 82,700 summonses during FY18, the total increase in paper cost would be approximately $5,000/yr.

The cost to retrofit and fully equip a state police patrol vehicle with the equipment and computer hardware/software needed to operate the E-Summons Pilot Project was $12,617. This figure includes the Panasonic CF33 MCT, a docking station, the Panasonic N1 handheld device, a thermal printer, and the expenses incurred for the removal of old equipment and the installation of the new equipment. There are additional costs for the E-Summons application software and essential printer supplies (thermal paper and ink).

The information for this post comes from the Report on Virginia State Police E-Summons Project