NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ—This reporter observed a strange sight on Thursday, June 26: a New Brunswick Police officer throwing out two traffic ticket booklets, including one with two parking tickets that were never filed with the court.
Parked near Old Man Rafferty's on Albany Street, a uniformed New Brunswick police officer was spotted nonchalantly cleaning out the trunk of his unmarked car.
Shortly after 5pm, the officer disposed of what appeared the two ticket books in a city garbage can. The booklets were recovered later by New Brunswick Today.
In most cases, the booklets contained only the officer's copy of the tickets.
But one booklet included copies of two parking tickets for labeled "Officer's Copy," "Police Record," and "Complaint-Summons (Courts Copy)," meaning they were never filed with the proper authorities.
NBPD Captain JT Miller confiscated the ticket books at Wednesday's City Council meeting and said he would discipline the officer(s) involved.
"That is a violation," said Miller.
The books were identified as belonging to officer #7252, but the tickets that were not properly submitted to the court were signed by an officer who indicated their badge number was #7297.
The vast majority of summonses (23) were for parking violations including parking too close to crosswalks, stop signs, hydrants, and other violations.
Additionally, the books contained records of tickets issued for illegal window tints (3), careless driving (2), running a red light (2), using a cell phone while driving (2), unregistered vehicle (1), tailgating (1), and a broken tail light (1).
For the benefit of our readers, below are the instructions listed on the front cover of a ticket book, which appears to be uniform across the state of New Jersey:
INSTRUCTIONS TO OFFICERS
1. At all times be COURTEOUS, FAIR and HONEST. Remember that public opinion of traffic enforcement is judged almost entirely by your conduct.
2. When issuing every Uniform Traffic Ticket:
- Introduce yourself to the driver by saying, "I am (give your rank, name and the name of the enforcement agency you represent).”
- Ask for the driver’s license, registration certificate and insurance identification card.
- Advise the driver of the offense committed.
- Advise the driver that you are going to issue a Uniform Traffic Ticket charging that offense.
- Ask for any additional information necessary to fill out the Uniform Traffic Ticket.
- Check the boxes “65 MPH Zone,” “Safe Corridor” or “Construction Zone” when applicable to the offense charged.
- Always check the box “Court Appearance Required” in accordance with R. 7:12-4(d) in addition to checking the “Accident” and “Personal Injury” boxes if the offense involves an accident resulting in personal injury.
In addition, the box for “Court Appearance Required” must also be checked if the charge involves: (1) speeding 40 MPH or more above the posted speed limit in any vehicle; (2) speeding 20 MPH or more above the posted speed limit in a “Safe Corridor” or ”Construction Zone”; or (3) the following the operation of a commercial vehicle (see N.J.S.A. 39:3-10.11):
a) Excessive speeding – 15 MPH or more above the speed limit.
b) Reckless driving, including violations of N.J.S.A. 39:4-96.
c) Improper or erratic traffic lane changes.
d) Following a vehicle ahead too closely, including violations of N.J.S.A. 39:4-89.
- Always charge only one offense per ticket.
- Fill out the Uniform Traffic Ticket and hand it to the driver.
- “Lecture” the driver.
- Quiz drivers on their knowledge of traffic laws.
- Indulge in personal remarks or altercations.
3. In filling out a ticket, preferably use a ball-point pen, applying steady pressure so that all copies will be legible. Print all information so that it is legible.
4. File the Uniform Traffic Ticket with the court without delay.
5. File the police copy in accordance with your departmental regulations.
6. Keep your officer’s copy in the event that your testimony in court is required.
7. Give the defendant the hard copy of the Uniform Traffic Ticket. For parking offenses, the defendant’s copy may also be affixed to the vehicle.
B. OFFICER’S COMMENTS
(See back of Officer’s Copy)
It is very important to fill in the OFFICER’S COMMENTS section provided on the back of the officer’s copy of the Uniform Traffic Ticket. Use this space to describe briefly the circumstances of the offense. There are always one or more relevant comments that you should note. Include every fact which will assist you in testifying, including:
- Facts about speed, distance and course of travel or position of the motor vehicle.
- In careless or reckless driving cases, the details which indicate that such offense was committed.
- Statements by the driver and general attitude.
- Other helpful comments or observations.
- Amendments to tickets are within the sole province of the judge acting, when appropriate, in open court.
A. RESPONSIBILITY FOR
LOCAL TRAFFIC TICKETS
In accordance with R. 7:2-1(d)(3), each Municipal Court Judge is responsible for all traffic tickets issued to local officers and for their proper disposition. The court is required to keep a control record for such tickets in accordance with the procedure prescribed by the Adinistrative Director of the Courts. To maintain these control records, officers must sign a receipt for the tickets issued to them and submit written reports on all tickets that are: (1) to be voided or corrected by the judge; (2) pokcet work or damaged; and/or (3) lost.
If the officer notes that an error has been made in writing the ticket, the officer should immediately stop writing the ticket. The officer may not cross out or erase any erroneous information. The officer should then write a new ticket and file both Complaints with the Court. The complaints should be stapled together, along with a separate signed statement explaining why the original ticket should be voided by the Court. Pursuant to R. 1:13-1, only the Court is authorized to correct clerical mistakes. Therefore, no person may make any changes whatsoever in any part of the Uniform Traffic Ticket ater the officer has started to fill it out. Amendments to Complaints are within the sole province of the judge acting, when appropriate, in open court.
C. CONTEMPT – R.7:6-2
Any person who aids in the disposition of a traffic ticket or summons in any manner other than that authorized by the corut may be proceeded against for contempt of court.
CORRECTION (7/8): A previous version of this article indicated the ticket books were discarded by a police officer on Friday, June 27. They were in fact discarded on Thursday, June 26 and recovered early the next morning.
Charlie is the founder and editor of New Brunswick Today, and the winner of the Awbrey Award for Community-Oriented Local Journalism. He is a proud Rutgers University journalism graduate and a community organizer, and was an independent candidate for Mayor of New Brunswick in 2018.