Deputy Chris Luque of the Clark County Sheriff's Office is not only a top writer of traffic tickets, he also created a multimedia presentation on impaired and reckless driving for driver-education sessions.
Deputy Chris Luque is not what you might expect from the sheriff’s office’s most ticket-happy patrol deputy.
He’s not intimidating-looking, and he doesn’t walk around with a chip on his shoulder. Yet so far this year, though, the 30-year-old officer has given out 109 tickets for speeding and 61 for using a cellphone or texting while driving.
Luque has been with the sheriff’s office five years, doing traffic stops on top of his normal 911 calls and assignments as a drug-recognition expert.
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He’s not an engineer, so he can’t make cars any safer, he said. But he can make people safer. “Every traffic stop is education,” he said.
He got into traffic enforcement because he saw it as the best opportunity to change driver behavior and keep the motoring public safe. When he pulls people over, some argue with him, some are honest, but more often than not, he said, drivers recognize their error. In 33 percent of his traffic stops, he lets people off with a verbal warning. The agency average is 54 percent.
“What we try to do is get people to modify their behavior,” said Fred Neiman, spokesman for the sheriff’s office. “If we can accomplish that in a warning instead of a penalty or a citation, I think we’re just as successful.”
About a year ago, Luque created a two-hour multimedia presentation on impaired and reckless driving, which he presents at driver-education sessions, hoping to inspire new drivers to adopt safe behaviors. He also teaches a refresher course for driver’s education teachers, along with an impaired-driving class at the Clark County Skills Center.
“I don’t know how to do anything just a little,” Luque said.
In about 10 percent of the vehicles he stops, the drivers are under the influence, he said, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’ve been drinking. Drugs, even prescription drugs, can pose a problem on the road.
He’s done about 110 presentations to nearly 2,200 students, who are constantly challenging him with new questions about driving and the rules of the road.
Luque said people often think police seek out cars to stop, just to be mean or to earn a few extra bucks. He said, however, deputies with the Clark County Sheriff’s Office don’t get paid extra for pulling over more people.
They just get a little extra validation that what they say during a traffic stop could prevent an accident down the road.
Deputy James Naramore has also handed out a few of those white slips. So far in 2012, he’s given out 120 tickets for drivers and passengers not wearing seat belts.
Naramore is the only officer in the traffic unit working commercial vehicle enforcement. Most of his traffic stops deal with trucking safety violations, which can have a greater impact on the motoring public’s safety than everyday passenger vehicles.
During his eight years with the traffic unit, he’s seen a lot of fatal traffic accidents — “”more death than I ever thought I would” see, he said.
Like Luque, he is a big fan of prevention, organizing multiagency efforts emphasizing truck safety. Wearing a seat belt, he said, can make the difference between death and a noninjury crash.
“It could happen to anyone, anytime, any moment,” Naramore said.