EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

April 18, 2013

N.H. police switching to eTickets

By Jo-Anne MacKenzie
jmackenzie@eagletribune.com

---- — Traffic tickets may soon zip through cyberspace to the Department of Safety and the Division of Motor Vehicles, thanks to a new eTicket system.

Police in Salem, Windham and Pelham will be testing the new system, already in use by New Hampshire State Police.

The goal is to eliminate paper and make record-keeping more accurate, according to John Barthelmes, commissioner of the state Department of Safety.

A traffic ticket is issued by cruiser computers, then automatically submitted to state agencies, including the court system.

If all goes well in those three towns, the system would be available to some 140 other law enforcement agencies that share the same technology. The goal is to make the system available to police statewide.

“We’ve been working with the court and are involved in the process to field test the system for potentially statewide use,” Salem Deputy police Chief Shawn Patten said Monday. “Any time we can cut the amount of time it takes to do paperwork and use technological upgrades that still have officer safety in mind, it’s a good thing.”

Patten said he’s optimistic, but his department is not operational yet and he hasn’t seen the system in action yet.

State officials have high hopes for eTicket.

“This collaborative effort by the Department’s Division of State Police, Motor Vehicles, staff from the Department of Information Technology and the Judicial Branch is a great example of what can be accomplished by working together toward a shared goal that ultimately will benefit everyone in the criminal justice system, and the citizens of the State of New Hampshire,” Barthelmes said in a written statement.

State police have been using the system for a year. The goal is to establish a central data bank that would include the 200-plus departments that still issue tickets manually.

The point is to eliminate the need for court personnel to manually re-enter ticket information manually, which takes time and can lead to errors.

The state’s circuit courts handle more than 54,000 tickets a year.

“Every effort made to streamline the data collection process, so that information is entered once into a shared system decreases the potential for errors and creates efficiencies that allow our court staff more time to process cases and serve the public,” said Edwin Kelly, the circuit court’s administrative judge. “Our collaboration with the Department of Safety is essential to reaching that goal.”

It’s all part of the Justice-One Network Environment, designed to move information electronically from the DMV system into the court system. It would integrate date from all levels of law enforcement, local, county and state.

The idea is to eliminate paper, according to Keith Lohmann of the Department of Safety.

Not only are eTickets more accurate and efficient, he said, but it’s also safer for police and drivers.

The system makes it possible for a ticket to be issued in two minutes, rather than the eight minutes required for a written ticket, Lohmann said.