Police in a small Arkansas town has been banned from writing tickets for a year after being in too much of a hurry to issue citations.
Menifee has a population of just 302, but it generated a massive $120,000 in fines in 2020, equivalent to almost $400 per person, including children and non-drivers, though some tickets would have been issued to out-of-town drivers passing through.
An audit of Menifee’s 2020 accounts uncovered the money-making scheme, which contravenes state laws that say a city can’t generate more than 30 percent of its income from traffic fines.
“Clearly they were writing substantially more tickets than communities of a similar size,” prosecuting attorney Tom Tatum told THV11, explaining that Menifee had run nearly 20 percent above the 30 percent threshold.
The city’s Police Chief, John Randle, says the headline figures don’t tell the whole story and that some of the income visible in the 2020 audit came from uncollected dues and fees from earlier years. But when THV11 requested data showing tickets issued between January 1, 2018, and August 24, 2022, the numbers revealed one police offer alone wrote 771 citations, and none of the officers let a single driver off with a warning.
Mayor Gary Green branded Randle “incompetent” saying that the police ignored his request not to write tickets for speeders traveling less than 10 mph (16 km/h) above the posted speed limit. But Randle claims he was only doing his job.
“The only reason I could see he’s got harsh words for me is because I’m enforcing the laws in Menifee,” said the police chief. Randle and his officers have now been banned from writing tickets for 12 months, which is good news for townsfolk in a hurry, but the huge drop in revenue means next year’s July 4 celebrations are probably going to be a fairly low-key affair.