New police chief plans to reduce emphasis on traffic tickets in 'speed trap'
Last year, Alexandria's police handed out 872 citations, bringing in nearly $70,000 in fines
Monday, November 23, 2009 3:10
Signs inform drivers of Alexandria's speed limits, even though they aren't enforced as strictly as they were in the past. Police issued 872 traffic tickets last year.
ALEXANDRIA, Ohio -- It's a one-stoplight town, little more than a half-mile stretch of Rt. 37 between the sewage-treatment plant and the gas station.
Yet this Licking County village, population 252, is big in terms of aggressive traffic enforcement -- or what those handed tickets might uncharitably describe as a speed trap. motorists who fail to slow from 55 mph to 35 mph at the village limits are known to depart, after a brief and not-so-enjoyable stay, with speeding tickets and perhaps a date in mayor's court. Last year, the village's full-time chief and his auxiliary officers handed out traffic tickets, bringing in nearly $70,000 in fines used to operate the police department.
Resident, tops in central Ohio and one of the highest per-capita figures in the state, according to Ohio Supreme Court statistics.
Village residents tell tales of drivers being stopped for going 1 mph over the limit who vow never to return to Alexandria, no matter how many miles they have to drive out of their way.
"People avoid coming through town due to our reputation," said Bill Lisk, the owner of a combination gas station, drive-through liquor store and pub who long has been a critic of the village's police force.
"We rely on people spending money here, and when they don't come through this town, we risk losing everything," he said."
Nine-year Police Chief Mike Kilburn, who led the 2008 ticket blitz, was fired in July by newly appointed Mayor Harold Lee. Kilburn has sued the village, seeking reinstatement and lost pay.
The controversy has dimmed Alexandria's reputation as a speed trap as the number of tickets has dwindled.
The number of traffic cases was not available from the town's mayor's court, but the village had brought in only $26,604 in fines this year. That's well below the 2008 figure. Lee did not return repeated telephone calls.
The mayor's court has not filed required quarterly reports with the Ohio Supreme Court this year. But mayor's courts can do so with impunity. The law does not list any penalties for failing to report. The shortcomings of mayor's courts, and financial conflicts of