Arkansas Town Banned From Giving Speeding Tickets After Writing Too Many

Over half the town’s revenue came from traffic citations, running afoul of Arkansas state law.

byStef Schrader| PUBLISHED Aug 29, 2022 8:36 PM
Arkansas Town Banned From Giving Speeding Tickets After Writing Too Many
Screencap via THV 11 on YouTube

It sounds like any lead-footed driver's fever dream. The small town of Menifee, Arkansas, has been banned from writing speeding tickets for the next year by sheer merit of being a speed trap, reports THV 11. The tiny town—population 274—ran afoul of Arkansas' anti-speed-trap laws that prohibit more than 30% of a town's revenue from coming from traffic citations. In Menifee, an audit found that traffic fines comprised over half of the town's revenue. 

"Clearly, they were writing substantially more tickets than other communities that were similarly sized," 15th District Prosecuting Attorney Tom Tatum told THV 11. Tatum worked on the audit of the town's finances, which found that the city took in over $120,000 in traffic fines during 2020 alone. 

As with any good small-town mess, fingers are a-blazin' as to who is to blame. Menifee Mayor Gary Green faults Menifee Police Chief John Randall for the snafu, as Randall led the police force that wrote all these tickets. 

"When I hired him, I said, 'We can't write tickets 10 miles and under,'" Green told THV 11. "But yet, these guys [were] writing tickets 10 miles and under."

"Because to me, he's incompetent," Green continued.

Randall disagrees with Mayor Green's characterization, telling THV 11, "The only reason why I could see he's got harsh words for me is because I'm enforcing the laws in Menifee." 

Randall claims the audit failed to take into account the fines from before 2020 that weren't paid in full until 2020. Judges had instituted payment plans, and Randall claims that some of the extra revenue brought in wasn't from the audit year. 

Menifee City Alderman Derrick Hammond confirmed that part of Randall's job was to chase down outstanding traffic citations, and apparently did well at it. "Chief Randall was given permission from the mayor and city council to go after past due and unpaid tickets," Hammond told THV 11. "The tickets were written by officers who no longer work for the city." 

Yet the stats don't lie about Menifee's speed trap status. THV 11 acquired the full record of tickets written by the Menifee Police Department between January 1, 2018, and August 24, 2022. Zero warnings were given by Menifee police in that time period, despite Randall's assertions to THV 11 that he encouraged officers to make more use of warnings. One officer wrote a whopping 771 traffic citations alone, although he was a bit of an outlier, given that the next-highest number of citations written by one officer was 263. 

Other law enforcement officials around the country are similarly troubled.

"It's disheartening to hear when so many communities lack trust in law enforcement, that some police departments are still funding municipal operations in the name of public safety through the collection of fines and fees. Like the plot of a bad '70s movie, the speed-trap town is apparently still a thing in America. With speed enforcement now banned in Menifee, the result is counterintuitive to the original purpose—public safety," Faribault, Minnesota, police Chief John Sherwin told The Drive.

Unfortunately for those of us looking for a lawless utopia where we can speed as we please, the laws still apply in Menifee, even if Menifee's police force can't write tickets when you break them. While Menifee police won't be waiting to dole out fines for barely exceeding the speed limit, other law enforcement agencies can still write fines for offenses committed in Menifee. The ban on the Menifee Police Department writing up traffic citations only lasts for a year, too, so be careful out there anyway. Goodness knows, there are plenty of other speed traps still out there waiting for your cash. 

Jeff Stobbs contributed to this report.

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