Alpharetta, GA – An Alpharetta police officer was fired after he didn’t issue a traffic ticket to either driver following a minor collision.
No ticket is required if drivers swap info and resolve the incident themselves, but the minute a police officer gets asked to write a police report, issuing a ticket to the driver at fault becomes automatic, regardless of the circumstances, WGCL reported.
So when the department recently found out that Alpharetta Police Officer Daniel Capps hadn’t issued a ticket to Charles Westover after a minor fender-bender, the officer was summarily fired.
Westover was very upset to learn that Officer Capps had been fired after not writing him a ticket for the slow-speed crash that only damaged the cars’ bumpers.
"I was pretty appalled, I am appalled. That doesn't seem right to put that kind of mark on this gentleman's life," Westover told WGCL.
"To have a blanket policy that applies to all kinds of incidents, doesn't make a lot of sense to me," he said.
Westover said the officer was “extremely courteous. Very professional, acknowledging it was a minor fender bender and there was no need to issue a ticket." He said the driver of the car he’d hit didn’t want a ticket to be issued, either.
But according to a memo issued by Alpharetta Police Lieutenant James Little, anytime there is "damage that needs to be fixed with more than a little wax and elbow grease, you need to write the citation," WGCL reported.
Alpharetta Assistant City Manager James Drinkard responded to WGCL’s request for information about Officer Capps’ termination, and said that the failure to write Westover a ticket was simply the final straw in a series of problems.
“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,” Drinkard wrote.
“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,” the statement read.
WGCL requested and reviewed Officer Capps’ personnel record over the past nine years with the Alpharetta police, and found the following:
- He was once written up for wearing earrings, a violation of the department's dress code.
- Officer Capps was written up once for leaving his gun unattended on the police range during training.
- He was written up for occasionally stopping to use the bathroom at his house, instead of using public restrooms on his beat.
- Officer Capps was written up when he returned a teenager caught shoplifting to her parents, rather than putting her straight in jail, after he arrested her.
- He was written up in January for not writing enough tickets.
When he received discipline for not writing enough tickets, Officer Capps talked to several colleagues about it, and asked if they thought the lieutenant’s policy was fair. Some of the other officers were in agreement with him about the problems with the policy.
But when Lt. Little found out about those conversations, Officer Capps got in trouble for attempting to undermine his authority and was suspended, according to WGCL. He was later terminated from the police department.
The Alpharetta Municipal Court’s chief judge told the news station that it’s not his job to have an opinion on police policies, when he was asked what he thought of the ticket-writing rule.
However, the chief judge also said he hadn’t known about the police department’s ticket policy.
Blue Lives Matter reached out to former Officer Capps for comment, but did not receive a response.