‘There was no option other than verbal warnings:’ University police will issue traffic tickets, fines

Wichita State police will issue traffic tickets and fines beginning Nov. 1, ditching the former verbal-warning-only approach, the university announced in a news release.

Interim Police Chief Robert Hinshaw said early October that university police had never issued traffic citations before.

“Traffic citations, they’ve never been issued,” Hinshaw said in early October. “That’s what I’m told. I find it strange to believe, myself.

When Hinshaw was appointed interim police chief, he said he aimed to work on policy regarding how traffic citations are handled.

“Unless there was an actual criminal violation . . . there was really no option other than verbal warnings,” Hinshaw said.

“There was never a mechanism in place.”

The press release cites two violations — running stop signs and failing to yield to pedestrians — as reasons for the change.

Tickets issued to WSU students, faculty, and staff can be appealed through the Traffic Appeals Committee, the university news release stated.

“It has been the custom of Wichita State’s police department to offer verbal warnings to drivers for traffic infractions on campus without real consequences for their bad driving habits,” the news release said.

“It is not intended to be a revenue-generating process.”

Issuing tickets and fines incentivizes good driving, the news release stated.

“Because of a number of complaints and a near fatal accident in 2016, it has become necessary to change driving behaviors,” the news release stated.

University police said they will also issue citations through the district court with Sedgwick County.

“It doesn’t do any good if there are no sanctions or repercussions to inappropriate behavior,” Hinshaw said.