Where do police in Massachusetts issue the most traffic violations? Some of the answers might surprise you.
As a raw number, the places that saw the most violations handed out in the past several years are pretty obvious. They are generally the most populated communities in the state — Boston, Springfield, Lowell, Worcester.
But the results get a bit more interesting if you look at the number of violations issued per capita or the number doled out per mile of roadway in each community, a Globe review of traffic ticket data found.
For example, the small Massachusetts towns of Blandford, Sturbridge, and Becket saw the most violations issued per resident between 2010 and spring 2016.
Why? They all have one or more major, busy highways running through town but relatively few residents.
“Sturbridge alone is intersected by Routes 90, 84, and 20, and the confluence of those highways is a very busy area,” State Police spokesman David Procopio said in an e-mail. “Blandford and Becket’s per capita citation rate is most likely the result of the Pike running through both towns.”
Another explanation for why some smaller communities might have higher rates of violations per resident than bigger cities:
“In some of the major city departments, violent crime calls, gangs, drugs, housebreaks, and domestics make take up an inordinate amount of an officer’s time during the course of their shift at the expense of traffic enforcement,” said an e-mail from Brian Kyes, president of the Massachusetts Major City Chiefs of Police Association and chief of Chelsea Police.
Check out the three maps below to see how many violations were issued overall, per resident, and per road mile in your town in recent years:
A closer look at where State Police issue traffic violations
No police agency in Massachusetts issues more traffic violations than the State Police — not even close.
From 2010 through 2015, State Police issued more than 2 million violations, accounting for about 40 percent of all violations issued in Massachusetts and about eight times higher than the next highest amount issued by a single agency.
The maps below highlight areas where troopers have issued the most violations in recent years.
They seem to show the highest numbers in communities that major highways run through, including the Massachusetts Turnpike and Interstates 95, 495, and 91.
State Police tend to patrol major highways, while municipal police departments tend to patrol the other roads in town, said Mark Leahy, executive director of the Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association and former Northborough police chief.
But don’t be fooled: State Police “can, and do, write citations for violations on local roads if we observe them,” department spokesman David Procopio said via e-mail.
A closer look at violations issued by municipal police