When Gulfport Motor Officer Ben Smith writes out citations during traffic stops throughout the day, it's not always with a monetary fine in mind. On this day we found Smith talking to drivers and letting them know what moving violation they've been pulled over for, and he's doing so with education in mind.
"I hand them a ticket and say hey this is a courtesy citation, this is a written warning and a lot of them just smile, they're like yes I won't do that again and thank you for letting me know I did wrong."
Operation S.A.V.E. is a program that has worked well in Gulfport. S.A.V.E. stands for Stopping Accidents through Visibility and Education. Traffic enforcement officers are out there watching drivers and in cases like rolling through a stop sign or some other minor traffic violations you may be getting a courtesy citation versus heading to court.
Smith says, "It kind of gives the officer a little leeway. Sometimes in a situation somebody might not need a ticket they might just need a little education to let them know that they need to heighten their awareness while they drive especially nowadays with so many distractions in the vehicle."
Another stop on Courthouse Road and the driver is getting a courtesy citation; while Officer Smith has the driver's attention he uses the stop as an opportunity to explain the dangers of driving too fast on wet roadways.
"It lets them know that they need to pay a little bit more attention while they drive; it makes the people feel better they can drive off without having a ticket and also makes the officers feel better knowing we've done our job and the public's happy and we're happy and that's what it's all about."
And, in Gulfport it's all about educating drivers and stopping accidents, using a program that has been successful for more than 10 years now.
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