Moffett Ordered To Shut Down Speed Trap
Wednesday, December 20, 2006 8:59 AM CST
By Hicham Raache
TIMES RECORD • HRAACHE@SWTIMES.COM
The Moffett Police Department was ordered Monday to cease patrolling a four-mile stretch of U.S. 64, which the state alleges had been maintained as a speed trap.
As of today, Moffett police are banned from patrolling the four-mile stretch for an indefinite amount of time, said Kera Philippi, an Oklahoma Highway Patrol spokeswoman.
Moffett police allegedly violated a law enforced by the Oklahoma Department of Safety, which states that a speed trap is maintained if more than 50 percent of a department’s annual budget is derived from speeding tickets issued in a particular area, Philippi said.
“They can’t go over that 50 percent without being put in that (speed-trap) category under law,” Philippi said.
A high number of complaints had been made against the alleged speed trap, according to Philippi.
“When people feel like a town is a speed trap, they could complain through our department to the commissioner,” she said.
An audit by the department was conducted and the findings were sent to the Oklahoma Attorney General’s Office, Philippi said.
“In this case it did come back from the Attorney General’s Office that there was enough to consider it a speed trap,” Philippi said.
The Police Department gained 78 percent of its budget from speeding tickets in 2003 and 84 percent of its budget in 2004, according to Philippi.
“It’s one of those areas where you go through and real quick the speed limit changes,” Philippi said.
The Safety Department has yet to accurately determine how much of the Police Department’s 2005 and 2006 budget was accumulated from speeding tickets, Philippi said.
The Oklahoma Highway Patrol and the Sequoyah County Sheriff’s Office are now responsible for patrolling the stretch of highway removed from Moffett police, Philippi said.
“We’re still going to utilize law enforcement,” Philippi said. “And they’re going to be more vigilant so people don’t become lax (in observing the speed limit).”
If the Police Department wants to regain the right to patrol the four-mile stretch, it must submit a plan that would address fixing the problem of maintaining a speed trap, which would be reviewed by the Safety Department commissioner on a case-by-case basis, Philippi said.