One of San Francisco’s favorite conspiracy theories is that San Francisco cops issue more tickets when the economy falls on tough times. “The city’s out of money, they have to generate revenue somehow” that guy next to you at the bar will announce “so they nail you for a California Stop.”

While a Wall Street Journal article from last week acknowledges that the SFPD has been writing more traffic tickets over the past couple years of this recession, bite your tongue on the brash, “I told you so.”

In the clip, WSJ writer Ben Worthen cites statistics from the SFPD and Office of the Controller that over the first four months of 2010, the police department issued 50,102 tickets, a total which mirrors that of the 50,586 sum from the same period last year. These totals are nearly a third more than January-April 2008, however, when officers gave out 38,314 citations.

The SFPD attributes this increase not to an added pressure to write more tickets due to budget woes, however, but to a crime-reduction plan issued in 2008 that puts more officers in high-crime areas of San Francisco.

Additionally, police spokesperson Boaz Mariles says in the article that the police department doesn’t directly benefit from writing more tickets because the revenue is divided up throughout the city, county and state.

So do these explanations pass muster, or are you still suspicious of the SFPD’s ticket-writing methods?

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