Time to end Jefferson speed traps - JacksonHeraldTODAY

Itís time to tone down the Jefferson speed traps. In an apparent bid to raise revenue, Jefferson cops have reportedly been pressured by superiors to write more tickets.

If that sounds like an echo, it is. Small towns in and around Jackson County have been struggling with their budgets for months. The result has been increasing pressure on departments to move beyond public safety and into fund-raising by fining more and more people for speeding and other, sometimes petty, offenses.

But as some towns have discovered ó think Pendergrass, Hoschton and Arcade ó it costs more to run a police department than it can raise in fine revenue.

Hoschtonís department has been shut down. Arcade, once notorious as the areaís most aggressive speed trap, has changed direction and is now a small, community-oriented department. Even Pendergrass, the stateís worst offender of raising money by stopping motorists for petty offenses, has cut back some on its overbearing enforcement.

But Jefferson has, if anything, only gotten more aggressive. Although mostly focused on the bypass area, the JPD is also stopping drivers in-town. Many of those stops are for speeding, but one suspects that has more to do with raising funds than public safety. In fact, some of those being stopped are openly told by JPD officers that their ticket wonít be reported to the state, an action that would hurt their insurance and driverís license points.

Of course the JPD doesnít want to report all its speeding tickets to the state ó that would raise a red flag on just how many tickets are being written by the town.

Cities and police agencies often get very defensive when questioned about their fines:

ďItís just for public safety,Ē they claim.

Yeah, right.

The truth is, local governments are guilty of abuse when they subtly, or often openly, demand that police departments write more fines. Itís putting men with guns on public roads to extract money from motorists, often for very minor and petty infractions.

But towns destroy their reputations with their own citizens and across the state when they seek to raise money from fines. Their actions are transparent ó everybody knows the game being played.

Does Jefferson want to be the next Arcade or Pendergrass?

We hope not.