He’s got a ticket to write
January 19, 2013
While Rick Dodds patrols in his marked police car, his eyes are on the road and on other drivers. His hand is on a remote that controls the radar unit on the top of his dash.On this day, he is patrolling Colorado Street, part of his old stomping ground. Even though the speed limit is 25, people cruise down the extra-wide road.Dodds clocks a blue Toyota 4Runner at 39 mph.“We’re going on a traffic stop,” he says, and turns left onto the side road the SUV went down. Within 10 minutes, the motorist is back on his way, happy as a clam, Dodds said.The stop was one of many. In 2012, Dodds wrote 1,400 tickets in his beat, the southeast part of town, including Edmonds Drive. In comparison, the average deputy assigned to traffic enforcement generates 700-800 citations.For his efforts, Dodds won the Joining Forces Outstanding Performance award, along with Sgt. Darrin Sloan, as well as the 2012 Deputy of the Year award, given by Sheriff Ken Furlong.When a deputy does something well, he’ll get a commendation from the sergeant. But that is nothing like the two awards Dodds just received. After 25 years of service, Dodds had it coming.“This is the first time it’s been that high of an award,” Dodds said. “I’m kinda in shock because I had no idea this was going to happen. But, you know, I’m very happy (with it.)”Dodds has, through his 1,400 tickets, learned how to master a new software and ticket writing system the sheriff’s office, and the state, has moved to. When he pulled over the blue 4Runner, the stop lasted a total of 10 minutes.With the new ticket writing devices, Dodds can scan driver’s licenses as well as vehicle registrations. But with those 1,400 tickets, nearly all are getting a ticket from Dodds for the first time.Furlong commended Dodds inclination to master new technology.“He is just doing an amazing job,” Furlong said.Dodds came to his beat because residents had complained to the Carson City Board of Supervisors about speeders on Edmonds Drive. The board wanted the sheriff to do something about it. The sheriff and Sloan vowed to make something happen, Sloan said.“Just putting Dodds out there did fix the problem,” he said, adding that the freeway bypass has helped, too.COMING TO COMMUNITYThe Navy brought Dodds to the West. He went to grade school and high school in Iowa and then joined the military.“Aviation ordnance. Bombs,” he said, grinning. “We would assemble the bombs” and then move them onto an ordnance elevator on a aircraft carrier.His sergeant looked sheepish.“I was 5 years old (at the time,)” Sloan said.After he got out of the Navy, Dodds was in the San Diego area, working various mechanical jobs. His girlfriend wanted to move to Carson City on the condition that he came with her. He did and has stayed ever since.He worked at a series of jobs, had to hire and fire employees, but found it did not sit with him. Being able to drive for five minutes and be in the great outdoors has helped keep Dodds here, he said.Dodds came to the policing business in 1985, when he started as a reserve deputy with the sheriff’s office. From there, he realized he loved the job and moved to make it his career in 1987. “I liked what I was doing there and decided to do it full time.”When he first started out, he was patrol. From there, he moved to the detectives division in 1997 and stayed there until 2000. In 2000, he moved to being a field training officer and helped train fellow deputies. When he moved to traffic, everything changed.“I got really interested in traffic,” he said. “I like the fresh contacts, on a report or on a traffic stop.”Dodds does not usually wait in his car for someone to come by speeding. When he did, he would park in front of a house on Edmonds and the residents would bring him water and baked goods.Many roads through Carson are especially scary for residents because their mail boxes abut the road. Getting mail can be a harrowing experience, Dodds said. He aims to make that just a little bit safer.Most of the time Dodds patrols, driving in a loop. He first visually estimates the car’s speed and then checks that estimation with his radar. His hand often sits on a remote control. When he sees a speeder, he may wag his finger to let them know he caught them speeding. They slow down. Once he passes them, he checks his backward-facing radar. If they sped up, he flips around and gets ready to write a citation.Furlong said that despite Dodds’ prodigious rate of ticket writing, he has yet to receive a single complaint. It may have something to do with Dodds’ ever-present grin, or his philosophy on people. He always tries to make sure he handles the citations, and the people getting them, like he would like to be treated. But it also comes down to the smile.“They smile, I smile, it relaxes the situation,” he said.He likes working traffic so much he erased the prospective retirement date from the calendar he had penciled it in on.“Now I don’t really want to give it up,” he said.