Police are writing more tickets

Palo Alto police are using officers on motorcycles to catch traffic scofflaws. Photo from the Police Department’s annual report.
Palo Alto police are using officers on motorcycles to catch traffic scofflaws. Photo from the Police Department’s annual report.

Daily Post Staff Writer

Palo Alto police, in a crackdown on speeders and other traffic scofflaws, wrote 40% more traffic tickets in 2018 than the previous year, a new report shows.

In 2018, police issued 8,011 tickets, most for speeding, lack of registration or missing tabs and using a cellphone while driving, according to the city’s database of traffic tickets written during 2018.

Many of those tickets were issued along Alma Street, El Camino Real, E. Charleston Road, San Antonio Road, Middlefield Road and Embarcadero Road, according to the database.

In 2017, the city issued 5,708 tickets. The tickets were for similar sorts of violations — cellphone usage while driving, lack of registration or missing tabs and speeding.

However, in 2018, there was a bump in speeding tickets — 944 compared to 511 in the previous year, an 85% increase.

Tickets for expired registration or missing tabs also went up, from 1,150 in 2017 to 1,782 last year.

Chief Bob Jonsen brought back the city’s traffic patrol in July, staffing it with two officers. Palo Alto police did not have traffic cops for three years, though officers on regular patrol would stop people for traffic violations.

Jonsen told the Post in April 2018 that the visibility of traffic enforcement officers on motorcycles can discourage speeding and other traffic violating and reduces property crime.

“When people see there’s people out there getting cited for whatever it is … they start to drive a little more cautiously,” Jonsen said at the time.

Traffic citations were the bulk of tickets handed out in 2018, a total of 8,245, according to the city’s annual police report.

11 arrests required force

The report also notes that of the 2,602 arrests Palo Alto cops made in 2018, police used force on 11 people.

The Post asked police spokeswoman Janine De la Vega for more information about the 11 use of force incidents, such as when they occurred and what sort of “force” the police used.

However, De la Vega forwarded the Post’s inquiry to the department’s custodian of records and said the department considered the questions a California Public Records Act request. That gives the city 10 days to respond.

Types of crimes

The report also includes statistics on how many types of crimes occurred in 2018 with a comparison of how many occurred in 2017. In 2018 there were six rapes, and 11 in 2017. There were 38 assaults last year compared to 40 in 2017.

The city saw nine arsons in 2018, up from six in 2017. There were 30 robberies last year, compared with 39 in 2017.

The report says there were 234 burglaries in Palo Alto last year and 1,197 larcenies. There was no break out statistic of car burglaries. In 2017 there were 215 burglaries and 1,477 larcenies.

In 2016, Palo Alto saw 504 reported car burglaries, according to a Post report from 2017.


  1. When will they start writing tickets to people running red lights?

    I’ve lived all over the US and never seen it as bad as it is here.

  2. What I’d really like to see is tickets for running red lights.It’s rampant. And someone is going to get hurt.And it’s not only drivers,it’s pedestrian too!I’ve stopped going thru Palo Alto it’s so bad.

  3. Are tickets now being written to pay for the generous salaries and benefits being earned? The city of Palo Alto is $900 million underfunded in pension obligations…

    • What about University avenue?, did you know the speed limit is 25 in Palo Alton unless otherwise posted? Did you know it’s against the law to go around a turning vehicle, traveling into a bike lane? PAP could make lots more it they patrolled University

  4. ….and violent crimes in Palo Alto are on the rise. Way to terrorize the citizens that pay your salaries PAPD. No wonder you are seen as “Keystone Cops” here. Hire more traffic cops to hide in tbe shadows like cowards writing chicken crap moving violations to the honest, hard working people trying to get to work while the thieves, rapists and drug dealers run their course. Well I suppose that is the easy way to do it. Just another example of rampant criminal mismanagement of tax dollars by Palo Alto civil servants.

  5. @Steven Brockbank – If I could give an award for most idiotic post ever written, yours would be it. So sorry the police might get in the way of your race through town, while you are ignorant to the fact that you are putting children and all pedestrians and bicyclists at risk of serious injury and death. Sounds like sour grapes from someone who got caught being an idiot driver.

    No one I know considers the PAPD to be “Keystone Cops,” and it’s completely ridiculous to accuse the police of prioritizing traffic over violent criminals. Then again, being hit by a speeding driver who’s only concern is “trying to get to work” is a pretty violent event.

    If you are so angry with Palo Alto, feel free to go around. Us residents thank you!

  6. Now that I have posted in support of the PAPD, I also want to send a critical message to them: PLEASE STOP BEING THE BIGGEST SPEEDERS ON OUR ROADS. Many times cops have sped by me on Middlefield where I am going between 25-30 – they pass at about 40 MPH with no lights or siren. I have seen a police car almost hit a bicyclist because the cop behind the wheel was paying little attention as he chatted with his partner, and moved out into the intersection almost hitting a bicyclist who was completely obeying traffic laws and even made eye contact and made a wave to assure mutual understanding. The cop pulled out and nearly hit him, causing him to swerve and nearly fall. This incident alone is a big part of the reason I got a dash cam.

    I’m not a bicyclist and am often annoyed by those bicyclists that ignore traffic rules and act like they have the right of way simply because they are on a bike, so believe me when I say that the incident with the cop was extraordinary.

    PAPD: Please set an example by obeying speed limits and traffic laws, and then cite anyone and everyone who breaks the rules.

    Thank you.

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