Last week the Department of Justice released their findings in a report about the operations of the Ferguson Police department. Much of the report focuses on revenue generation as a focus before true law enforcement. I am so happy my department is not a revenue source for our city.
Time and time again in the report it states that City Hall was ordering the PD and even the municipal judge to bring in money. They actually quote emails from city hall to the PD where the city is setting targets for how much money the police need to make for the city. I am sorry but that is just wrong.
We have a city here in Wisconsin that is well known for using the police as a revenue stream. The village of Rosendale is nothing more than a speed trap. Two state highways go right through this small town. These highways connect a couple larger cities so they are heavily traveled routes. So the ability to make traffic stops is easy for the Rosendale cops.Trust me they make alot of traffic stops. I through the city about once a month, if not more. There is always a squad sitting just inside the city limits running RADAR. If that squad is not sitting running RADAR it is a few blocks down with a car pulled over.
Locals joke about how their city is a speed trap. One of the gas stations sells a t-shirt proudly saying “Rosendale, Just the Ticket” with a image of a police car.
I am sorry but this kind of activity hurts the rest of us as police. In my city we don’t have municipal court, we run everything via the circuit court. Meaning only $10 – $25 of any ticket we write comes back to the city. There is no way with our salary rates local cops could be a revenue source with getting that small amount back from tickets.
It stinks that a city would see the police department as a way to get more funding. That is NOT the mission of a police officer.
With all the calls for police reforms in the media lately I think some politicians need to take a good look in the mirror. We need to reform the way we fund some city governments and take revenue generated by police out of the equation.
In thinking about some of the hate I see for police it often times goes back to the revenue issue. City hall sets up a system the pits police against the well meaning average citizen. Even here in a city were we are not used for revenue. People just seem to assume police departments all operate the same way, but we don’t.
Sadly many will say that police can fix this by refusing to do as city hall asks. Sorry but when someone has student loans and house payments to deal with getting fired is not a good option.
I just count myself happy to work in a city that does not misuse us like that…