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City officials looking for flaws in police ticketing policies, system

March 4, 2012

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KU Ticket Investigation

Four former Kansas Athletics employees and one current employee have been federally charged and two former employees have pleaded guilty in a scandal involving millions of dollars of stolen tickets from the university.

How police ticketing works, past and present

The Lawrence Police Department in April 2006 went from a system that relied totally on paper to one backed up by software, known as “e-citations.” Paper tickets are still a part of the system.

• Now, when an officer issues a ticket for a traffic or other Municipal Court offense, the e-citation is printed on thermal paper, and two copies are generated. One goes to the driver or suspect, and the second is signed by the driver and kept by the officer.

• An officer turns in the paper ticket for a supervisor to review, and it is later transferred to the front office and Municipal Court. Before the city began using e-citations in 2006, the system relied on the transfer of the paper copies — through internal mail and document collection — to Municipal Court.

• Since April 2006, a different system has been in place. At the same time the tickets are printed, software in a police car computer generates a text file that contains all of the information related to the stop. Officers can add notes after a driver or suspect has left an area. It allows the officer to safely enter the notes without any immediate safety concerns. But this also could be a potential weak point.

“Used correctly, this gives the officer the ability to void an e-ticket, for example, for a person that runs out to move a parked car that a ticket had just been issued for — and the officer decides to take the ticket back,” said Police Chief Tarik Khatib. “But, taken advantage of, this can also be used to void a ticket for a friend. So the key as we examine what to do next is to somehow retain some flexibility and discretion for those doing the right thing, and at the same time look into increasing oversight.”

• At the end of the shift, officers log in to a report transfer program, and all citations on the computer are automatically sent to a network drive. At this point officers have no way to stop the citation from being transferred. They end up in a database file that is generated to be transferred into the Municipal Court records system every few days or less.

How six speeding tickets were fixed in the recent scandal (under both the old and new systems)

Khatib said an internal investigation revealed one of three methods was used to dismiss the six speeding tickets from 2000 to 2009 for an officer’s friend:

• The officer who issued the citation was asked by another officer as a favor to write “void” across the front of the copy that goes to Municipal Court.

“It’s like it never happened. It’s an extension of me pulling you over and giving you a break,” Khatib said.

• The ticket was already turned in but again as a favor from another officer the issuing officer or another officer asked a prosecutor to dismiss the ticket, for example by saying it included an error.

• During a vehicle stop — before a ticket was written — the issuing officer was called by another officer and asked to not write a ticket.

A review of city policies is planned following a recent scandal in which a former Kansas University athletics official provided men’s basketball tickets to at least one police officer and also benefitted from the dismissal of speeding tickets.

But Lawrence Police Chief Tarik Khatib said in an interview last week that his department became less vulnerable to ticket-fixing problems in 2006 with the introduction of electronic ticketing.

Regardless, Khatib said city officials would thoroughly examine the system.

Last month, one police officer was suspended and then resigned after it became public that six speeding tickets were dismissed during a nine-year period in exchange for KU basketball tickets. Another officer also has been suspended.

The officer who resigned was a longtime friend of the former KU athletics official. City officials have said the athletics official provided basketball tickets to the officer, who either had dismissed or asked fellow officers to dismiss six speeding tickets that the athletics official had amassed.

“It’s a reasonable system we have in place,” Khatib said. “That doesn’t mean we’re not going to review the whole thing from top to bottom and set up an environment that has less opportunity to do that.”

City Manager David Corliss said he has ordered a full review in coming months of the city’s policy for tracking dismissed tickets. It will cover the police department as well as Municipal Court and other city departments.

“I just want to look and see what other communities are doing and see if we can’t improve not only the actual practice but also the transparency,” Corliss said.

Ticket scandal

Of the six speeding tickets that were dismissed as part of the recent scandal, four were issued between 2000 to 2005 under the old system. The last two were issued in 2008 and 2009.

The department went to e-citations in 2006 because it was accepted as a best practice in the industry, Khatib has said. Khatib was a longtime supervisor in the department before he was elevated to interim chief in 2010, taking over for retiring Police Chief Ron Olin. Khatib was selected as permanent chief in February 2011.

The newer system makes it more difficult to fix a ticket, Khatib said, but it can still happen.

“The electronic ticketing system made it easier because you have checks and balances,” he said. “You get a paper copy that goes into the system, and you have an electronic copy that goes in. That’s a pretty good system, but people can still make the choice to bypass the system.”

He said the city’s review would try to find fixes for any possible weak points in the system.

Last May, following an anonymous complaint, an internal investigation was launched, followed by a federal investigation into allegations speeding tickets were dismissed.

The city has said the individual whose speeding tickets were dismissed was a former Kansas Athletics Inc. employee now serving time in federal prison for his role in the broader KU ticket scandal.

A federal judge last year sentenced four former Kansas Athletics Inc. employees — Ben Kirtland, Rodney Jones, Charlette Blubaugh and Kassie Liebsch — and one department consultant, Tom Blubaugh, to federal prison. They were involved in scam that involved cash for athletics tickets that operated from 2005 to 2010 and cost KU more than $2 million in football and basketball tickets.

City officials have said one police officer had a friendship dating to the late 1990s or early 2000s with the former athletics official who had access to basketball tickets. The officer received free, discounted or special access to athletic events over several years. The athletics official did ask for help with various speeding tickets.

The officer who resigned asked the officer who remains on suspension two or three times for help in fixing a ticket. The officer who helped “may have been the beneficiary of KU tickets through the first employee,” according to a Feb. 24 statement Khatib provided about the investigation. The other speeding tickets were fixed by asking officers who issued or were about to issue a ticket to void it or not issue it, but those officers did not knowingly receive anything in return, Khatib said.

At the city’s request, Federal Bureau of Investigation agents and the U.S. Attorney’s Office investigated the case and decided against filing federal charges of bribery or other offenses, but Khatib said the conduct violated the city’s gratuity and solicitation policies.

City officials have not identified the two officers, but City Attorney Toni Wheeler has confirmed that a personnel investigation was complete regarding Sgt. Matt Sarna, who resigned from the department Feb. 24. The internal investigation regarding the second suspended officer is ongoing.

The city has provided the officers’ names to District Attorney Charles Branson so prosecutors can determine what, if any, effect the situation would have on criminal cases in which the officers served as witnesses. Prosecutors would be required to notify defense attorneys in pertinent cases about any potential exculpatory evidence.

Branson said last week prosecutors were still reviewing their files.

“I do not have a timeline for when the review will end,” Branson said.

City review, ethics policies

Khatib said the ticket scandal has affected the entire police department.

“That was bad news for the community, but that person was dealt with,” Khatib said. “I think you have to look at not necessarily what happened but how we’re handling it.”

He said that during his 18 months as interim and permanent chief, he has stressed to employees what the public’s expectations of them are.

“I want to reinforce that officers are out there doing their jobs, and I don’t want people to put this on them. They’re the officers that are out there doing this every day. People that are culpable in this are going to be held accountable, and if anybody deserves any negativity, that is me, the chief of police,” Khatib said. “I should be the one that takes the blame for that, not the officers who are out there every day doing their job.”

Comments

smitty 2 years, 1 month ago

how can you tell if there is corruption in the city government?

Silence.....The city's citizens and government turn a deaf ear ...blind eye.......and the c-roaches disappear into the dirty darkness.

bingo!! roflmao

The JW has reported what information they could garner in regards to the coinkydink of Khatib's history ....points to his involvement and/or knowledge all along while the city tries to put out an explanation that dances all around the truth.

Time to hire an out of town chief with a record of honesty but then the commission and manager would need to clean up their parts in these problems. Is a clean up possible while in denial?

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smitty 2 years, 1 month ago

How far and wide is the LPD corruption? Interesting that Khatib is never far from the events exposed, drug unit, traffic unit, original YH investigator. The exposure of the tickets for tickets points to a department wide problem with ethical and legal behavior.

Where is that LPD audit, in lieu of a personnel issue complete with the secrecy the claim of personnel issue provides per city manager and commissioners?

Carrie Neighbors civil suit is surely backed with proof of this claim:

In 2007, at the expense of the Lawrence Tax Payers,

Officer Micky Rantz and Jay Bialek drove a police issued Crown Vic to Denver Colorado,

to interview former Yellow House employee Sandra Donner. Ms. Donner was not called as a witness at trial. Annette Miller was a single mother with 2 children living in Denver also. Miller had filed a complaint with

Internal Affairs Sgt. Dan Ward against several Lawrence police officers including

Jay Bialek for harassment tied to the Yellow House case.

On the same day as Ms. Donner's interview two men were seen in a Crown Vic with Kansas Plates in Annette Millers Apt. Parking lot.

A short man matching officer Bialek's description got out of the Crown Vic walked around her car and slashed all four of Annette Millers tires......

Wonder what police reports are on record in Colo on this criminal act of vengeance.

What's the outcome of the investigation , if any, by LPD Ward?

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pace 2 years, 1 month ago

If fixing tickets for game tickets isn't illegal, it should be. If fixing tickets or dropping charges for gratuity is not illegal in Lawrence and Douglas County, it should be. If it isn't illegal this is on the City commission. They should stand up. Not doing their job.

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smitty 2 years, 1 month ago

Disappointing that the forum has not posted in regards to the chronology of the events and the chronology of our new chief, Khatib.

Thank you JW for these facts.....

The ticket for ticket has been going on for several years.

The last position that Khatib held prior to this interim chief position was head of the traffic unit.

The "second LPD officer" suggests a Sgt &/or head of the traffic unit and several more patrol officers.

Time frame sure puts Khatib in the middle of the ticket bribery situation from both the chief position and his close relationship with Sarna and as the head of the traffic unit during the chronology presented.

Khatib is knowingly ignorantly along with an unknown number of LPD.

"Police culture," Khatib explains.

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smitty 2 years, 1 month ago

link was provided but the JW software blocks the posting of their own archives

JW article quote .......According to numbers released by municipal court, the single city block with the most speeding citations issued in 2005 was the 2000 block of Massachusetts Street, with 848 tickets. The speed limit there is 30 mph.

For the Rev. Leo Barbee of Victory Bible Church at 20th and Massachusetts streets, the numbers are no surprise. He sees officers running radar in his church parking lot so often that he joked the church should get a cut of the proceeds.......

This is how the LPD harassed the YH owners with the traffic unit. Our traffic unit is a tool used to bribe........and harass. What other department heads in the LPD follow this same police culture? Khatib openly talks about the favors for favors in his application of the power he has. Police culture is corruption at work.

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smitty 2 years, 1 month ago

.......According to numbers released by municipal court, the single city block with the most speeding citations issued in 2005 was the 2000 block of Massachusetts Street, with 848 tickets. The speed limit there is 30 mph.

For the Rev. Leo Barbee of Victory Bible Church at 20th and Massachusetts streets, the numbers are no surprise. He sees officers running radar in his church parking lot so often that he joked the church should get a cut of the proceeds.......

This is how the LPD harassed the YH owners with the traffic unit. Our traffic unit is a tool used to bribe........and harass. What other department heads in the LPD follow this same police culture? Khatib openly talks about the favors for favors in his application of the power he has. Police culture is corruption at work.

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smitty 2 years, 1 month ago

another page from the civil suit of Carie Neighbors against the city and two named LPD officers:

** ABUSE OF DISCRETIONARY AUTHORITY:

HARASSMENT:

An attorney Kevin Regan law firm in the Western District of Missouri. at the direction of the Assistant U.S. Attorney Marietta Parker, sent letters harassing and threatening the Neighbors, based upon the false pretense that he represented Lawrence Kansas Police officer Michael McAtee. Mr. Regans name is not listed as the City attorney provided to officers for representation over Police matters. Mr. Regan states in the letters that he was a personal friend ofProsecutor Marietta Parker for more than 20 years.

On October 19, 2010, Ms. Neighbors communicated to her husband via a CCA recorded phone call that Louis Marshal would be accompanying her at his hearing. On October 20, 2010, Micky Rantz falsely arrested Louis Marshal on a falsified State Warrant, with a forged Judges signature, in Federal Judge Carlos Murguia's court room. Mr. Rantz had the Marshall's place Mr. Marshal in a Federal holding cell with Guy Neighbors. As part ofthe cover-up, the public arrest log falsely showed [400 State Avenue, Kansas city Kansas] as the location ofthe arrest, instead of the actual location ofthe Department ofJustice, at [500 State Avenue].

In 2007, at the expense of the Lawrence Tax Payers, Officer Micky Rantz and Jay Bialek drove a police issued Crown Vic to Denver Colorado, to interview former Yellow House employee Sandra Donner. Ms. Donner was not called as a witness at trial. Annette Miller was a single mother with 2 children living in Denver also. Miller had filed a complaint with Internal Affairs Sgt. Dan Ward against several Lawrence police officers including Jay Bialek for harassment tied to the Yellow House case. On the same day as Ms. Donner's interview two men were seen in a Crown Vic with Kansas Plates in Annette Millers Apt. Parking lot. A short man matching officer Bialek's description got out of the Crown Vic walked around her car and slashed all four of Annette Millers tires.**

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NoBama2012 2 years, 1 month ago

Khatib is a joke! I worked with him when he was a road officer and he would bad mouth the department and Olin constantly. When he was in the sergeant process he told me he would quit if he didn't get promoted. Too bad for the city and the department, he did! Sarna was a very good officer and a good person who just made a poor decision. Too many people living in glass houses and unfortunately, cops aren't allowed any mistakes.

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equalaccessprivacy 2 years, 1 month ago

BBC Comedy Spot on Privatization of the Police Force: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=...

Douglas County needs a citizen review board: I've never by at least a factor of ten seen such mouth-dropping lack of ethics, brazen dishonesty, and conflict-of-interest--not to mention horrifying incompetence --and I've seen my share.

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Hoots 2 years, 1 month ago

This has gone on for years. I was told Terry Allen abused the snot out of this little agreement while he was here. Why is everyone so surprised?...Really? The City has always fixed things for special people at KU.

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demonfury 2 years, 1 month ago

“That was bad news for the community, but that person was dealt with,” Khatib said. “I think you have to look at not necessarily what happened but how we’re handling it.”

There in lies the problem Chief. You want to pull the focus off of the corruption and onto the fact that the city isn't producing any real information about the personnel involved. You want us to concentrate on a lack of information related to corruption in your department. Well of course you do. The real and vast majority of corruption in Lawrence lies with the City manager. Dave Corliss is in my opinion, the biggest criminal in Lawrence. Followed by the Chief of Police, and then the unwitting City Commission, who are for the most part completely oblivious to the realities of what's really happening in Lawrence. Replace Corliss with an honest man, replace Khatib with an honest man, clear the commission and replace them with full time commissioners. Remove the Auditor and replace him with a person what actually cares enough to do their job. And finally, enforce the policies and laws that are on the books, or get them off the books if you are going to be selective about them, or aren't going to enforce them at all. Bottom line, get the corrupt liberals out and bring back some conservative values. This city has been run by crooked Democrats for far too long. We're starting to look like a little Chicago. And you wonder why Lawrence is in decline?

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smitty 2 years, 1 month ago

What???? No KU prof doing a [token] investigation this time? No auditor dong a token audit????? Is this what Lawrence calls progress?

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smitty 2 years, 1 month ago

affidavit of facts in support of: abuse of discretionary authority & witness tampering....

.....Nearly every Government witness involved in this case, committed perjury before the Federal court during the September 2011 trial in case .. Witnesses changed their original statements from their initial interrogations to suit the Governments needs. In exchange for their co-operation, witnesses had their own serious violent crimes covered-up, were shown leniency, and were set free from prison.

Witness coersion and intimidation:

In exchange for testimony in Plaintiffs property case witnesses were not charged for the following criminal acts:

Tony Reyes: Grand Theft Auto, Drug Trafficking.

Louis Parsons: Convicted Felon with Firearms, Gun trafficking including the sale of an AK-47 assault rifle to an undercover officer, Trafficking Narcotics.

LKPD Officers Jay Bialek and Micky Rantz: Theft and mishandling of Evidence, Falsified Documents, Misappropriation of City funds and Evidence, impersonation of a Federal Agent, perjury.

Patrick Nieder: Convicted felon with firearms,early release from incarceration. During Mr. Nieders interrogation he states to Lawrence Police officers Bialek and Rantz that he dealt with Patricia. Officers correct him and give him Carrie Neighbors full name. He then confesses to having been in possession of firearms while a convicted felon. He is assured by the officers that's not a problem.

Since several witnesses including, but not limited to, Nicole Beach and Mr. Nieder could not properly identify Ms. Neighbors during the initial interrogations, the Prosecution erected a large poster on an art easel at trial with various photo's including Ms. Neighbors Photograph and name on it.

James Ludwig: Cover-up of new information about a murder for hire, and his giving false information to a Grand Jury.

Postal Inspector David Nitz: Violations of Jurisdiction, Violations of search and seizure laws, failure to investigate, perjurious testimony presentment to the trial court of falsely inflated unsubstantiated dollar amounts that were not in accordance to Supreme court rule that defines "proceeds" as "profits".

Stacy Barnes Catlett: Not charged under the career criminal act, promised a reduced sentence on her identity theft charges, released from prison immediately following her testimony.

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smitty 2 years, 1 month ago

Tickets for tickets is not the only corruption in the LPD or over looked(aka cover up) by the city when exposed.

IN THE DISTRICT COURT OF DOUGLAS COUNTY, KANSAS Civil Court Department [Lawrence Kansas] CARRIE NEIGHBORS Plaintiff

CITY OF LAWRENCE KANSAS defendant

LAWRENCE KANSAS POLICE DEPARTMENT defendant

MICKY RANTZ defendant

JOHN JAY BIALEK defendant

COMPLAINT Conspiracy against rights Evidence violations

Demand for Jury Trial or Declaratory Judgment


Since there is not coverage by the JW on this civil suit against the city, it begs the question of how many law suits are filed and settled without the general public's awareness. Just because something is on the public records doesn't necessarily expose problems with the city's liability issues.

JW, can we get some details on those (silent) civil suits? Are there trends in those civil suits? Trending now are the LPD problems....

FYI, Khatib was the head of the drug unit and involved in the early stages of the YH's investigation and complaints of corruption.

The police culture Khatib supports per his JW quotes does not fair well for ethical LE standards in Lawrence nor does the city that will not do an investigation into the LPD as a whole. We still haven't had an audit that was deemed top priority at the hire of a new postion of auditor. The city's involvement has become too apparent to avoid responsibility any longer. Lawenrece needs changes in our governing.

Carrie Neighbors is convicted and the city has yet to respond to the allegations of corruption......Thus the civil suits, it appears.

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LJ Whirled 2 years, 1 month ago

The flaw was the corruption, and the lack of any serious threat of being prosecuted for it. Honest cops don't take bribes, even in the form of sports tickets.

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smitty 2 years, 1 month ago

There are discreet city tickets issued instead of arrests for the KU ball players.

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classclown 2 years, 1 month ago

deec (anonymous) replies…

Officer discretion was practiced when the Occupy movement participants were ticketed, but the other people standing around in the park observing them were not. The only people who were ticketed were the ones who were using their free speech and assembly rights.

============================================

FAIL

They were ticketed for violating an ordinance that states they can not be in the park during certain hours. There is no such ordinance concerning public sidewalks.

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JackMcKee 2 years, 1 month ago

flaw: tickets not as good as they once were. solution: pull over nicer cars

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JackMcKee 2 years, 1 month ago

another flaw : too many people are eluding police before their tickets can be confiscated. Solution: high speed driving training

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patkindle 2 years, 1 month ago

what is really stupid is why get a ticket fixed when it is so much easier to pay extra and get it written down?? the ku guy had plenty of money it really doesnt make sense

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smitty 2 years, 1 month ago

**Khatib was a longtime supervisor in the department before he was elevated to interim chief in 2010, taking over for retiring Police Chief Ron Olin. Khatib was selected as permanent chief in February 2011.....

....The other speeding tickets were fixed by asking officers who issued or were about to issue a ticket to void it or not issue it, but those officers did not knowingly receive anything in return, Khatib said....

Just give some consideration as to what the perfect position in the LPD is for distribution of tickets for tickets bribery scam. Those traffic tickets were even "traded" before any ticket was issued on the scene of the LPD traffic pull over per press releases. Now who gives instructions to the entire traffic control unit?

JW archives....linked in prior posts.

It's quite interesting that Sarna was Khatib's right hand man and the "point man" and Khatib's position where he says he had no idea this was going on as either the head of the unit or as chief. Especially when you take into consideration Khatib's past quotes on giving favors for over looking crimes while he headed the drug unit .

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racerx 2 years, 1 month ago

The Chief said: "I want to reinforce that officers are out there doing their jobs, and I don’t want people to put this on them."

Well, Chief, you're the one that's putting the whole department in a negative light. By not releasing names and protecting the officers who acted unethically, you taint the reputation of all officers in the department and put them all under public suspicion.

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JackMcKee 2 years, 1 month ago

flaw: too few basketball tickets coming in to satisfy demand. Solution: pull over more cars with KU license plates/bumper stickers.

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Al Deathe 2 years, 1 month ago

Do you really want a black and white system? Do you really want a system that has to issue a ticket to everybody they stop? Officers use "officer discretion" to give people the benefit of the doubt. Writing a ticket is not going to slow people down, bad drivers are bad drivers. If you look at the number of times officer discretion is used correctly to incorrectly I think you would be surprised. Those who are given a warning hopefully will think about their driving and pay more attention those who don't will be in the same situation soon after. I have to ask how OonlyBonly has time to watch the meter maids issue tickets enough to know how many vehicles they ticket and which one they don't or is his statement just a outlandish statement without merit just inflammatory. Law Enforcement is just like any occupation, unfortunately a few will really embarrass the occupation but in the end the occupation as a whole strives to do its job in a very honorable way, 5 percent of an occupation can cause great embarrassment for the other 95 percent. I don't know of any occupation that doesn't have the same problem. The important thing is to find those 5 percent and rid them from their occupation.

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rgh 2 years, 1 month ago

I bet they don't worry about this happening in Columbia, MO or Manhattan. It is sad that public officials cannot be trusted to uphold the law they are sworn.

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OonlyBonly 2 years, 1 month ago

How about fixing the "officer discretion" option? Some illegally parked vehicles get ticketed while others don't. Ask, "Why not?" Response, "Officer's discretion." If it's illegally parked it should be ticketed.

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Gandalf 2 years, 1 month ago

I'll beleive the problem has been fixed the first time I see an LPD officer getting a ticket leaving the cadillac ranch at 2 AM.

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