Last updated: 4/11/2006 10:35:51 PM
It's been since November when the I-Team revealed which ten municipalities in St. Louis County were more likely, statistically, to issued traffic tickets to motorists.
Now, the I-Team has broadened its reach, to Madison and St. Clair counties in Illinois and to Jefferson and St. Charles counties in Missouri.
In Foristell, Missouri, city fathers are unapologetic about the need for speeders to fill their city coffers. The city relies on speeders on Interstate 70 to balance the city budget. Right now, the city is hoping to hire a new city administrator, but without a tax hike. Instead, the mayor and council members are asking the chief of police, Keith Nelson, to step up patrols on the interstate.
It didn't take but a few minutes to spy police in Foristell setting up to catch speeders, including Ruby Moskop. She says she never got a ticket before, and was cited for following too closely. She says that happened when the motorist in front of her slowed at the sight of a Foristell police car, and she had to quickly brake. Ruby partially blames the police for the ticket!
Foristell has 8 full time officers, two part timers, and 344 residents, and no city park. In nearby Wright City, there's a population of 1,600, and 8 officers, with two city parks.
Chief Nelson says he's uncomfortable being used as a profit center, but adds his officers are reducing high speed accidents along their short stretch of interstate. However, the same stretch got safer five years ago, when the Missouri Department of Transportation installed a cable barrier to keep cars and trucks from crossing the center line.
To find the top ticket spots in Missouri, we used data supplied by the state of Missouri. Cities total budgets were divided into the amount of money that comes from their court fines. That figure would give us a good idea about the percentage of the city budget comes from tickets.
Here's the Missouri list, with the top five:
2. Olympian Village
3. New Melle
4. Byrne's Mill
Roland Hoeffener runs a website called Tipmra, in which he makes suggestions how motorists can fight speeding tickets. Hoeffener lives in Webster Groves and says he fights the tickets because he got an unnecessary one years ago.
Hoeffener says motorists are being soaked by municipalities, which are more interested in money than traffic safety. Hoeffener says it's a 7.5 billion dollar a year industry for the nation's municipalities.
One of them could be Livingston Illinois. In 2004, police wrote 3,101 tickets on the roads in Livingston, but only 825 people were living there then. That's almost four tickets for every man, woman and child who calls Livingston home.
The chief is James Poppenhouse, who says grants to police agencies dried up after 9-11, and his city replaced those grants with more aggressive law enforcement on nearby Interstate 55. Poppenhouse says the city fathers could raise taxes to fund the police department, but there are no plans to do that.
Poppenhouse says his officers have reduced accidents on their stretch of the highway, and have also helped pay their own salaries and for their own cars, which includes a former Illinois State Police chase car, a Chevrolet Camaro. The Camaro is in the shop, but has been used a lot to chase speeders, some clocked at over 100 miles an hour. Poppenhouse says those are the people who need to get tickets.
We could not rely on the data supplied by Illinois authorities about budgets and court records. The figures appeared wildly inaccurate, with small towns having huge budgets.
Instead, for Illlinois communities, we tracked down the racial profiling data required by federal law. That gave us the total number of traffic citations issued in a city, and we used population to identify the cities most likely to issue a ticket.
The chief of the Roxana police department, Richard Farthing, says our methodology isn't accurate, saying his town has lots of traffic and low population. Farthing says that fact would skew the numbers. However, it's the only numbers that are reliable, city to city.
Roxana is number two on our list.
Here's the complete list:
4. Pontoon Beach