Officer Daniel Capps was on the force for nine years and was ultimately terminated because he declined to issue a traffic ticket to a driver after he bumped into another car. According to a department memo directed at officers, if there is an accident with any “damage that needs to be fixed with more than a little wax and elbow grease, you need to write the citation” — even if there are no injuries and the damage is minor.
As long as officers are called to the scene of a car accident, this rule is supposed to apply. But Capps decided to let the motorist who caused the minor incident off with a warning.
“Someone’s already needing to pay the insurance. It’s a hassle. There’s no need to have a ticket on top of that,” he told local outlet CBS 46, adding that he doesn’t believe it’s a police officer’s job to make people’s lives miserable.
According to Charles Westover, who rear-ended the driver in front of him at a slow speed, “To have a blanket policy that applies to all kinds of incidents doesn’t make a lot of sense to me.”
He said that when Capps arrived at the scene, he was “extremely courteous, very professional, acknowledging it was a minor fender bender and there was no need to issue a ticket.”
According to Capps’ police report, no one was injured, and only the bumpers of the cars were damaged. The person whose car was hit did not object to Capps’ decision not to write a citation.
“I was pretty appalled, I am appalled. That doesn’t seem right to put that kind of mark on this gentleman’s life,” Westover said.
CBS 46 attempted to obtain comment from Police Chief John Robison, but he did not reply. Capps, who says he issued a lot of warnings as an officer, expanded on his views, suggesting the policy is the work of a single city supervisor:
“He’s just one of those guys who likes writing tickets. He just gets off on, in their words, causing other people pain. I wasn’t like that. I gave a lot of warnings. If someone needed a ticket, they would get one. If they were courteous and understood what they did wrong, I wouldn’t write a citation. Same thing with accidents.”
In a statement, assistant city manager James Drinkard told CBS 46 the traffic incident was only the latest example of Capps’ insubordination:
“While the decision to terminate employment was based, in part, on the former employee’s decision to ignore lawful departmental policy and refuse to properly cite at-fault drivers who caused traffic crashes that resulted in property damage, that behavior was part of a pattern of performance and poor decision making that was simply not acceptable. The City of Alpharetta makes no apology for holding our personnel responsible for properly carrying out their assigned duties, being stewards of the public trust, and advancing our mission to enhance the quality of life of our residents, businesses, and visitors.”
Some examples of Capps’ “poor decision making” include wearing earrings against dress code, stopping by his home to use the restroom instead of using public restrooms, leaving his gun attended at a police firing range, and declining to charge a juvenile for shoplifting after she was caught stealing from a Macy’s department store. He opted instead to hand the girl over to her parents.
Further, after being reprimanded for not issuing enough tickets back in january, he asked other officers if they had an issue with the strict ticketing policy. “According to official documents, the lieutenant considered it an attempt to undermine his authority and Capps was later suspended before eventually being fired,” CBS 46 reported.
In a country where law enforcement agents are given paid vacations for killing unarmed citizens, Capp’s ‘transgressions’ seem tame by comparison, though he is not the first police officer to be punished for attempting to be kind to the people they patrol.
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