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Centralia Police Chief hopes to utilize new digital ticket program to springboard into other improvements

Centralia Police Chief hopes to utilize new digital ticket program to springboard into other improvements

Marion County Circuit Clerk Ronda Yates and Centralia Police Chief Greg Dodson (rear) explain the Digi-Ticket program to Centralia City Council.  Photo by Bruce Kropp.

While a new Digital Ticket program to be rolled out by the Marion County Circuit Clerk’s office this summer will initially allow for the writing of digital traffic tickets, Centralia Police Chief Greg Dodson hopes to use the new technology for even more purposes.

Circuit Clerk Ronda Yates says the program will send information on tickets and potentially ordinance violations directly to her office when entered. Those ticketed would receive a paper copy printed out in the squad car.

Dodson says the program is a good deal for the public.

“When someone gets pulled over, you aren’t keeping them sitting on the side of the road for 10 or 20 minutes while you are doing all this stuff.  Especially if we move to electronic crash reports.  When we have an accident, you will have an officer sitting in the parking lot because there was a fender bender for half an hour.  Most of that is them having to fill out the paperwork.  Once we get this done, and they call in and run the information, it will auto-populate that information.”

Dodson says a computer will also be available at the police department to enter tickets and for record-keeping.

Yates says additional work will be required to utilize the program for ordinance violations.

“We will have to meet with the Code Enforcement Officer and that will probably be a lot of work because their codes will have to have a code that matches the charge, but I think it will be an advantage to the city in terms of ordinance violations.”

The circuit clerk’s office is paying for the software, while the various cities in the county will pay for the cost of installation in the vehicles.

The Marion County Sheriff’s Department and Centralia, Central City, and Salem Police will be the first to convert to digital tickets. Yates said she signed the first big check to start the process on Monday. The goal is to have the program in operation by summertime.

In other action, the council approved the purchase of a new SUV squad car through the state bid held by Miles Chevrolet in Decatur for $38,678. The police department will be retiring the current canine vehicle with the purchase.

The council also approved the purchase of various street maintenance materials for the upcoming year.