As the mayor of a new city, I get to be part of a lot of historic firsts. We certainly went through our fair share, whether it was our first City Council meeting, my first State of the City Address or our first city youth basketball league. It’s fun to celebrate these milestones and all the work that goes into making them happen. And almost five years later, we’re still breaking new ground.
This month, I’m proud to let you know that we have another first to commemorate: our first traffic court. For the life of our city, and for the decades preceding cityhood, if you got a traffic ticket in Tucker, you went through the DeKalb County court system to adjudicate it. Earlier this year, your City Council decided the time was right to take on traffic court as a city. Beginning September 1, traffic tickets written by our Tucker Precinct officers began the transition of having those cited appear at our newly constructed courtroom right next to the new City Hall (1975 Lakeside Parkway, Suite 350). October 7 will be the first day with our solicitors trying our cases before our judges.
There is a significant amount of revenue involved with traffic court, but please don’t jump to the conclusion that this is all about revenue. Following our founding philosophy, we are evaluating every city service as to whether it makes more sense for us to provide it locally or continue to contract it out. In every case, we are working hard to continue the great working relationships we have with DeKalb County. In this case, it just makes sense that if you get a ticket in Tucker you go to court in Tucker, rather than having to spend the day in Decatur with all that entails. It also allows us to set our own fines, and work with our own court professionals on how to best enforce the rules of the road in Tucker.
Taking on this change is a big challenge. Already our city staff and legal department have put in many months of work planning, going through safety protocols, and meeting with leadership at the Tucker Police Precinct to plan how best to start up traffic court. There are guaranteed to be some bumps in the road, but our court staff, including some we’ve hired just for the purpose, brings several decades of experience from other municipalities; I know we’ll be in good hands, and Tucker’s roads will be safer for the effort.