Dodge City — Motorists speeding past a Ford County sheriff’s deputy in Dodge City have a pretty good chance of avoiding a ticket right now.
Prompted by a high number of felony and child-welfare cases, Ford County prosecutor John Sauer has decided to stop pursuing traffic infractions and misdemeanor cases initiated by sheriff’s deputies inside the city. He told the Sheriff’s Department in June that misdemeanor cases in the city should be sent to the Dodge City Municipal Court.
But Ford County sheriff’s deputies are not authorized to write tickets for violations of city ordinances. Currently, traffic violations and misdemeanor cases written by a deputy are prosecuted in district court, regardless of where they were written.
Many cities adopt their own traffic and misdemeanor ordinances and establish municipal courts to prosecute those offenses. That keeps fines and court costs local, instead of sending them to the state.
Ford County’s legal counsel, Glenn Kerbs, has proposed an agreement with Dodge City that would authorize the deputies to write tickets on city ordinances. The officers would need training on the regulations and would have to use the same ticket books as city police.
But Ford County Commissioner Kim Goodnight isn’t sure the agreement is the best solution.
“I’d just as soon not enter into a contract without knowing the ramifications,” said Goodnight, who asked for a compromise without having to change county policy.
He asked Sauer and Fort County Sheriff Dean Bush to discuss the situation and report back to the commissioners by Oct. 16.
While Sauer said his staff of five attorneys has been stretched thin, Kerbs said the city could handle the extra caseload.
Ford County Sheriff Dean Bush said he wants to work out an arrangement with Dodge City. Asking deputies to ignore traffic and misdemeanor violations they witness in the city limits is not an option, he said. His deputies issued 147 tickets from January to June.
Sauer said his office will still consider misdemeanor cases that pose a public threat, such as drunken driving offenses.