The town of Menifee has issued too many tickets and can no longer do so.
Before we poke fun at what has transpired in the Arkansan town of Menifee, allow us to make it abundantly clear that we do not condone speeding. The roads are already dangerous enough as things stand without some moron in a Corvette compounding the issue with reckless driving, and government officials want to inhibit the freedoms of drivers both domestically in the state of New York and abroad in Europe because of numerous bad apples on our roads.
But the high-performance car enthusiast in every one of us can't help but chuckle at the news that Menifee's police have been banned from issuing speeding tickets for a year.
The reason for this is that Arkansas has anti-speed-trap laws in place that say a town's revenue from traffic citations cannot exceed 30%. In Menifee, a recent audit found that traffic fines there made up more than half of the town's revenue, raking in more than $120,000 in traffic fines in 2020 alone. Speaking with THV11, 15th District Prosecuting Attorney Tom Tatum said that the town was earning far more from fines than expected: "Clearly, they were writing substantially more tickets than other communities that were similarly sized." So whose fault is it that so many traffic citations have been written?
The town's mayor, Gary Green, places the blame at the feet of Menifee Police Chief John Randall: "When I hired him, I said, 'We can't write tickets 10 miles and under.' But yet, these guys [were] writing tickets 10 miles and under." Green went on to call the police chief "incompetent," but Randall feels that all he's done is his job.
"The only reason I could see he's got harsh words for me is because (sic) I'm enforcing the laws in Menifee," said the police chief. He also says that the audit did not consider that fines from before 2020 appear to have skewed the figures. Judges had made allowance for payment plans, and some of these earlier fines were only paid off in 2020. Randall says that some of the incoming revenue was therefore not applicable to the year under audit.
Menifee City Alderman Derrick Hammond noted that the police chief was authorized to look into outstanding traffic fines but added that the city council "failed to make sure that happened [at the correct time] and now face police sanctions for a year."
THV11 got hold of the entire record of tickets issued by the town's police department between January 1, 2018, and August 24, 2022, finding that zero warnings had been issued during that time, despite Police Chief Randall mandate on starting the job to encourage the use of warnings more often. One officer recorded 771 citations alone, and although this was an extreme and isolated case, the officer in second place wrote 263.
The town has now been banned from writing tickets for a full year, but other police departments can still cite traffic violators caught breaking the law in Menifee. While it's funny to talk about, one can't help but wonder if this will encourage more reckless individuals to take greater chances over the next 12 months.