April 04, 2004

Bad Cop, Worse Cop

I support the police and give them wide latitude because they have a dangerous, underpaid, and frequently thankless job to do. But we have to be honest and note that sometimes, this privilege can be abused. Instapundit highlights an egregious case of the fact that speeding tickets seem to have less to do with enforcing norms of public safety than raising money or providing perks to policemen and their families. Right on cue, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch noted on the front page today that in Bel-Ridge (a small St. Louis suburb), the cops are chastised for attacking crime and not writing enough tickets:

Police departments often commend officers who have a knack for seizing drugs and arresting drunken drivers.

But in Bel-Ridge, such officers risk a stern warning.

Supervisors have warned some of them that busting bad guys or making time-consuming arrests distracts them from their true mission - generating money for the village.

"When it comes down to it, money is what counts," says a department memo dated March 17. "State cases do not generate money for the department. Municipal tickets do."

I don't know if it is worse that this is going on or knowing that these police supervisors are stupid enough to document it. Amazing. Read it and weep. Oh yeah, and never, ever trust the government with any more power than is absolutely necessary.

Posted by Charles Austin at April 4, 2004 07:12 PM

I lived in St. Louis from 1988-90 and just about every time I went through Bel-Ridge on I-170, there was a speed trap under either the I-70 overpass or the Nat Bridge one. Sometimes both.

Sad to see that 15 years later it hasn't changed.

Posted by: Chris at 08:00 PM

Talk about living in the past. Don't these boobs realize that they can automate this revenue stream. RED LIGHT cameras have been in vogue for a number of years and COMING SOON, TO A CITY NEAR YOU speeding cameras. Yes, no longer will they need to pay for manpower to take your money.

Posted by: thirdfinger at 06:05 AM

I lived in St. Louis County 1986-1997, and there were several known speed traps, Bel-Ridge among them. Locals knew where they were and slowed down in those areas. Only the dumb and the visitor got caught. It's the favorite kind of tax for a small municipality - one paid by people who don't live there or are too stupid to complain anyway.

Posted by: Dan at 09:39 AM

Bel-Ridge got busted by the state, back in 2000 I think, for manipulating a stop light on Natural Bridge at the University of Missouri-St. Louis campus from flashing yellow to red in order to trap unsuspecting drivers. These greedy bastards flipped the switch one too many times, caused a rear-end collision, earned the city a lawsuit and a state-installed governor on the stoplight, all in one fell swoop. Judging from this article, the "learning curve" is just too steep for some elected officials and their bureaucratic minions...

Posted by: Tongue Boy at 01:06 PM

Charles Austin: Sorry this is off topic. I'm writing a book about blogs and I would like to ask your permission to quote something you left in a comment box on VodkaPundit. Please email me: mahabarbara@yahoo.com

Posted by: Barbara O'B. at 02:53 PM

Last year the Chicago PD took to placing a decoy patrol car near an overpass on the Dan Ryan Expressway. The intended effect, I gather, is to cause drivers to slow down without having to put an actual police officer out there all day.

When passing it one day I saw that some jokster had put a big Dunkin Donuts box on the hood (probably weighed down with rocks inside or something). It made me laugh, anyway.

Posted by: Haws at 04:19 PM