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Is this a speed trap? Unreasonable police action?

I’m curious as to others’ opinions on this topic.

A section of interstate highway on my daily commute passes through a small village in the middle of the metro area. Population of this village is 745. Total area of the village is 192 acres. The village has 3 full time police officers and no fire department (dissolved in 2008, since contracted w/ neighboring city). The village is the only municipality in the area that has regularly enforced the speed limit on the interstate, and they’ve been getting a good amount of their revenues from speeding tickets, though the paper has pointed out that the costs of the mayor’s court and the officers just offset the revenues.

People have complained about the village’s police enforcement for years, and that has only become louder with news that two employees embezzled $260k from the city’s court. The county prosecutor is openly calling for the village to dissolve, stating that it is “nothing more than a speed trap”. So do you consider this to be unreasonable behavior, and why/why not?

A few facts:

  • The village writes speeding tickets at a rate of about 21 times the state average on a per resident basis
  • The interstate carries about 135,000 vehicles per day through the village according to the department of transportation
  • The county prosecutor claims 80% of village revenues are from speeding tickets
  • The state auditor (same party) shows 25% of village revenues are from speeding tickets
  • The speed limit is 55 on this section of highway
  • The speed limit is 55 for about 3 miles north of the village and 25 miles south of the village too.
  • The highway is elevated on the NB lanes (bridgework) and below street level on SB.
  • The NB lanes, though recently rebuilt, drain poorly, leaving standing water on the roadway
  • Several vehicles have lost control and gone off the NB lanes, landing in yards below and even on buildings in recent years
  • Sightlines are limited on the highway in much of the village to 500-1000 feet.
  • One person was killed not long ago in an accident caused after police made a traffic stop where the person stopped in the far left lane instead of moving to the shoulder - before he could get them to move, someone rearended the police car at high speed, then minutes later more cars piled up resulting in a fatality.
  • Since the embezzlement, the village stopped enforcement and I’ve seen MUCH more reckless driving through the area.

So what do you all think? Legitimate enforcement of a speed limit that is identical to surrounding areas on a potentially dangerous stretch of road, or simply a money-hungry village that serves no purpose other than to run a speed trap?

sounds more like a safety problem then a speed trap but i hate to say it keep the law enforment on the road way to help keep the speed under control and keep the road safe in the bad wheather. maybe put the money from the fines towards the drainage problem.

Where is this mystery village? Does it have a name?

Looks like OP is talking about Arlington Heights, OH in the Cincinatti metro area.

Two way to look at this.
The speed trap idea.
And the ‘’ get off your lazy butts and go out and actualy DO something’’ directive of a sleepy villiage with three officers and not much work to do.
So what then do they do all day with not many policing calls comming in ?

speed enforcement !

It’s not a speed TRAP unless the speed in unusually lowered by surprize and lo-and-behold, there sits a patrol car.

Three cops for just 745 people? Seems like a lot of cops…
Maybe they’ve been told to write tickets or one of them will have to go.

Sounds like a whole lot of towns in western Mass. And perhaps thousands of other towns across the country.

I have an enquiring mind: what inspired the question?

@shadowfax is correct on location

@ken green - I completely agree that it isn’t a trap in my opinion as the speed limit is unaltered and isn’t obscenely low. The neighboring city of Lockland DOES have a speed trap, IMO, along a side road where the speed limit as you enter the town drops from 30 to 25 at the same time that the setting goes from a neighborhood to large vacant brownfield sites. There’s no reason for the speed limit to be lower in that location than in the residential area right before it.

@RemcoW - agree on the face of it… but think of it this way… 3 cops working 40 hour weeks means that you’re still without any active police presence for 2 days of the week. They all need to put in 56 hours per week with no vacation and no overlap of schedules to maintain constant police presence. The county isn’t providing sheriff patrols for them.

Not sure if you really need a lot of police presence, unless there’s a lot of tweaking meth heads around.
There are certain small gulches in CT that have a state cop on duty on certain days only. They are the sleepiest of towns with nothing going on.
Is your town different?

@the same mountainbike

Simply the extreme reactions we’ve had in the area to the whole mess.

I personally LIKED the patrols, given the reckless behavior I see out of drivers. But I was interested in what more rational, car-type people would think.

Case in point - the county prosecutor’s reaction. Rather than just throwing the book at the criminal behavior of the embezzlers, he keeps getting out into the press calling for the village to dissolve. Quite honestly, I don’t think he has grounds to tell residents of the village what to do (whatever happened to the GOP being for LOCAL control, anyway?). Then he uses stats like “80% of revenues” which fly in the face of state audits, or the 21 times the number of speeding tickets per capita while ignoring the daily traffic per capita stat would also be MUCH higher. My town, north of the area, has ~12,000 residents. To get the same traffic:resident number as Arlington Heights, you’d have to have about 2.2 million vehicles per day going through the town on the interstate, but it only carries ~114,000 vehicles per day past us.

There are speed traps. Some are necessary and others just moneymakers for the town. The OP’s final statement;

“* Since the embezzlement, the village stopped enforcement and I’ve seen MUCH more reckless driving through the area.”

Indicates to me this is one of the necessary speed traps. The 55mph area starts before the town and continues after it meaning either dense traffic, a number of exits close together, curves in the road, or some other speed limiting factor. This town could just be protecting it’s citizens doing local driving from high speed commuters looking to make time with less regard for safety.

@RemcoW -

My town isn’t. Arlington Heights, though… I can’t imagine anyone wanting to live there without police on duty.

Case in point: City-data.com’s crime index for Arlington Heights: 115. Bounding cities: Lockland 455, Reading 287.5, Cincinnati 636.5

Cincinnati is a bit skewed because of variance between neighborhoods, but Arlington is close to Lockland in many demographic profiles. Arlington Heights’ crime rate is more representative of the affluent suburbs, though…

Ah, say no more. I guess they need cops.

While this could happen on ANY road and I wouldn’t say it was indicative of this stretch of highway, I was desperately wishing for a patrol last night.

Driver in a 2010-2012 Ford Fusion heading northbound. Weaving in and out of traffic, speeding, on a cell phone (not handsfree) gesturing wildly with his other hand and intermittently using a %$#!@#$! LAPTOP COMPUTER MOUNTED TO HIS DASH!

Unfortunately I didn’t even have my phone so I could call the cops and report this bozo before he killed someone.

I’m not at all averse to situations where reasonable speed limits are strictly enforced where it’s necessary to keep the roads safe. The trouble with statistics is that it’s very easy to use them to show large disparities in a way that implies unethical behaviors, when in fact disparities are normal. Politicians are famous for this. As are special interest groups.

Sounds like a highway design problem to me. Limited sight lines, cars landing on houses? These are not supposed to be allowed on an interstate. There is a section of freeway on 35E going through St. Paul that is 45 MPH because the neighbors didn’t want a freeway. Its called the practice freeway. So no reason that DOT can’t lower it more for that dangerous section.

There is a “hamlet” near me with a different speed limit on either side of the road. Northbound lanes are 80kph, southbound lanes 60kph. Cops live there.

Typical also to have them in non-bypassed towns and just off motorways (Brain is doing 110kph , Cop’s hairdryer is set to 60…)

Get caught 6 times in 3 years and you are discovering public transport here. 3 times if you have the cheek to go to court.

Blatant revenue generating speed traps are rife in Ireland. When it rains they all disappear…

Normally speed limits on Interstates are enforced by state police, not city units, and speed limits on interstate highways are set by federal guidelines. Local government does not control those.

This is reasonable enforcement of the law for public safety. You said that speeds have increased and so have accidents. I’m surprised that the State Police have not responded with patrols there.

It has been my experience that often enforcement of the law is considered proper by the enforcers and as unfair by the one receiving the ticket.

Does the enforcement conflict with any state laws?  Are drivers breaking the law?  Is the law being enforced unevenly? 

 While I life the State has the right and obligation to make sure that law is not being used just to rase income.  

 Unless you and others can show that the local enforcement is illegal and take action to present your case to the right legal authorities, you are out of luck. 

 Over the years I have seen several times when the local authorities were first warned and then brought before the state authorities where the local authorities were found to be overstepping they authority.  

 Unless you are willing to take this to the courts I doubt if much will change. Remember that just because a law is not desirable is not the same as it being illegal. 

 There is one easy answer for you.  Just follow the posted limit.