Harlingen police competes in traffic citations

A little friendly competition never hurt anyone or does it?

Action 4 News obtained a copy of the "crime reduction championship" draft pick, which is causing quite a stir with drivers on the streets of Harlingen.

A reward is the initiative in which Harlingen police officers compete to make the most traffic stops.

The top 18 officers get the right to pick their shift and schedule.

Interim Police Chief Stephen Mayer says the "draft pick" was implemented by former police chief Tom Whitten back in April 2013, following a philosophy known as d-dacts - data driven approaches to crime and traffic safety.

The idea he says is that more traffic "contacts" the higher the chances of catching a criminal, and having an obvious police presence is a deterrent for crime.

Mayer argues officers are just doing their job and enforcing traffic laws, but we wanted to know

Is this competition is ethical?

Action 4 News did some digging how many traffic contacts police officers are making.

In a public records request, we found out that just from January to March of this year, officers have already made 10,842 traffic contacts.

1,100 of those ended in citations and there were 9,744 warnings.

According to the draft, officers don't have to issue tickets rather make the most stop and make the most contacts to be "a free agent" who gets first dibs at schedules

These are the officers that have issued the most warnings:

Officer Victor Mendez handed out 526 warnings but just one ticket.

Officer Robert Silva issued 468 warnings and 11 citations.

Margarito de la Fuente handed out 384 warnings and 44 tickets.

The officer that has handed out the most tickets so far this year is Jose Villarreal, who leads all police officers by leaps and bounds with 463 tickets and 115 warnings.

Officer Jeffery Harlan has issued 73 citations and 40 warnings while Michael Cuevas had 71 tickets and 265 warnings.Mayer understands that this tactic may not be the most popular, but he says it is helping reduce crime.

Mayer says "the draft" motivates officers to better serve and protect while increasing productivity, but he admits some officers could be making more contacts simply to improve their chances at picking their shift.

He says whatever their motivation, something is working.

Chief Mayer says there's nothing wrong with making work fun, and adds he's even been invited to sit on a national board to teach others about this initiative.