Archive for Sunday, January 18, 2004

Police chief denies town is speed trap

January 18, 2004


— The police chief in this central-Kansas community says he isn't running a speed trap and he didn't fire a police captain for not writing enough tickets, but the department has issued far more tickets than similar-size towns in the area.

The Nickerson Police Department issued 533 traffic tickets in 2003, according to city records.

Patrick Call, a former police captain, wrote only 17 of those tickets.

"I have no quota on tickets," Chief Larry Eckhoff said. "The low number compared to others just shows he is not particularly doing his job."

Nickerson has a population of 1,187. Officers in Buhler, with 1,344 people, wrote 218 tickets. And the police department in Haven, with 1,172 residents, issued only about 50. Inman, a community of 1,139, reported about 100 tickets issued in 2003.

A section of Kansas Highway 96 through Nickerson requires motorists to slow from 65 mph to 30 mph.

"It is not a speed trap," Eckhoff said. "But if people speed, we are going to enforce the law. The limit is there for a reason. It makes the town safer if motorists are going slower when they drive through Nickerson."

Eckhoff issued 72 tickets, 212 were written by Officer Mike Mellott and 68 were issued by Debbie Stofer, a school resource officer.

Part-time officers and another officer no longer on the force issued 164 tickets.

"It also is not a way to pad the budget," Eckhoff said.

The city generated about $29,990 from traffic tickets in 2003, down about $400 from 2002, City Clerk Jeanine Brannan said.

Eckhoff said his officers were not sitting by the highway waiting for people to speed.

"I have no orders to write tickets to make money," Eckhoff said. "If I did, don't you think we would be writing a bunch more? For five officers and an entire year, 533 tickets is not excessive."

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