Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Public Safety or Revenue Enhancement? You Decide


I had planned a post about my recent Sunday afternoon of getting ticketed for not wearing my seat belt when I received an email from a reader indicating another revenue enhancing action by the Fort Thomas Police.  Two stories to be aware of to avoid paying fines and penalties to the city or county.

1. Click it or Ticket - I heard the radio commercials like everyone else and generally I buckle up.  I don't have a new car that beeps incessantly until you buckle your seat belt but I am pretty good at remembering so I ignored the commercials.  That is until Sunday.  I was driving home from Tower Park (which is .4 miles from my home) with my wife, 14 month old twins, and my three year old son.  I hit the intersection of Highland and Fort Thomas Ave and came to a complete stop at the 3 way intersection.  I noticed a Campbell County officer (as a side note - why is a Campbell County officer necessary when the Sheriff and Fort Thomas City Police patrol?) stopping as well and since it was his turn I paused to let him go.  He waited, and waited, and finally I went.  As I entered the intersection he went as well and did a wide turn and flipped on the lights.  To compound the embarrassment my three year old asks from the back seat if I was going to jail.

The officer was polite but indicating he was patrolling for the purpose of writing tickets for Click it or Ticket.  Despite no moving violations they are apparently pulling over anyone they see and writing tickets.  I doubt this was truly for my safety since it is 25 mph through town and I was traveling exactly .4 miles to my house (normally we walk but since we were hiking the trails with the kids we decided to drive) and the whole scene definitely created a bigger safety situation than I created by not buckling.

2. I received an email from a reader of Fort Thomas Matters who had this to say:
They just went down Ohio Avenue and gave out $10 tickets to all cars that are parked in the wrong direction.  The office said it was a city directive and to let them know if we disagreed with it.  He said they would be doing it through out the town. 
Has anyone else had this happen?  For your feedback I am opening up the posting restrictions - you don't have to be a registered user.


You have been sufficiently warned - be sure to buckle up and make sure your car is in the right direction.  This will clearly keep the mean streets of Fort Thomas safe and secure.

15 comments:

  1. Since my wife was rear-ended on S Ft. Thomas Ave due to a driver following too close or not paying attention, I have zero sympathy for your seat belt ticket. She wasn't much further from home than you were. The car that hit her was probably going far less than 25mph and his air bag went off.

    So yes- it is for your safety.

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  2. Revenue Enhancement gets my vote! Recently I dropped my daughter off at Johnson Elementary at 7:30 am. As I approached the stop sign at the next intersection, I made eye contact with the office that was parked at the cross section as I stopped briefly then continued on my way. I immdeiately see the lights come on and to my dismay the officer pulls me over stating the following "I know you stopped at the stop sign, however you did not stop long enough". Apparently there is a certain amount of time that you have to sit at the stop sign to be considered legally stopped! As there were no other cars entering or exiting the intersection it is hard for me to believe this was a public safety issue!

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  3. The parking tickets happened on Indiana Ave. yesterday as well. I've lived on the street for 15+ years and everyone has always parked facing down without issue. I understand that you shouldn't park this way on streets with parking on both sides and more traffic, but we are on a cul-de-sac and this will increase the traffic down where lots of kids play. A little warning on the city's intentions to start enforcing this would have been nice. I'd rather see the police ticketing cars who don't stop at the crosswalks when people are trying to cross.

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  4. I moved to Ft. Thomas from out of state and was amazed at how many people I met warned me about the aggressive police presence in this city. I'm lucky in that I live near the border, and am in to and out of the city pretty quickly. I did get pulled over recently though and the whole thing still torques me off. I was going as close to the speed limit as I could given all the variables in driving a car, had advanced warning there was an officer ahead via my radar detector and approaching motorist flashing their headlights, and STILL got pulled over. My only theory on why, is that I happen to drive a nice sports car. Anyway, when I asked why I was being pulled over, and this is a direct quote, he said "you were going a TAD over the speed limit". What a crock. Not only was the officer rude, but he seemed genuinely disappointed that I had all my "paperwork" current and up to date. I got the impression it was just a fishing expedition to see if he could find something to cite me for. It ticks me off my tax dollar pays for this kind thing, but I really don't thing they have much else to do around here...

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  5. I grew up and live here and we have always been able to park either direction. Frankly, the thought that someone in the City Administration brainstormed this up makes me a little angry. If the city is hurting for money why not do the noble thing and ask for a tax increase or make some cuts somewhere else? Property values are declining, folks are out of work or have less discretionary income because of fuel and food prices, etc., and the Administration comes up with this brilliant idea to ticket cars. It's a petty and underhanded way to squeeze money from the citizens of this community. I'm surprised we're not being told it's all for "our" safety. What a crock.

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  6. Mark, please follow up on what the law is before you post. 

    1. The seatbelt law DOES NOT require any other violation. It is a primary probable cause issue that we are encouraged very heavily by the state to enforce. The revenue from that ticket and ANY OTHER ticket does NOT come to the city. Our state allocated funds from citations is the same if we write 1 ticket or 20000.  

    2. There are an abundance of Campbell County officers that live in our city. He may have been going home or on the state grant detail for seat belt enforcement. There was a State Trooper in town yesterday. Not sure why but they have jurisdiction and can be in town all they wish. 

    3. The wrong direction parking tickets were a misunderstanding of one of our sergeants who completely misunderstood something the Patrol Lieutenent wanted officers to do. I believe the chief said we are going to void them all. 

    The wrong direction ordinance is primarily for parking on busy streets against the flow of traffic. This action puts the driver at a disadvantage being fully on the left and having to pull straight into oncoming traffic. It is usually used for streets like the main avenue, Highland ave and so on. We only issue them on side streets should there be a major issue that needs to be addressed. It was not a revenue generator and the shift has been redirected by the chief himself.   City citations have never been a means of revenue generation. There just isn't enough to generate a substantial cash flow like cities with meters etc. 

    Lastly, how come you never call before you post?  You know myself, any of the command staff or even the chief will answer questions for you. 

    Lt. Fecher

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  7. I don't understand why you have to buckle your seat belt in a car (which I always do), but you can ride a motorcycle w/o a helmet. Public safety or Revenue??

    btw - Tower Park to Highland & N Ft Thomas Ave are 1.0 mile apart.

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  8. Thank you Lt Fecher for clearing up the parking ticket issue. It would be nice to get a confirmation that the tickets will be voided. I am a little confused as to how a sergeant could confuse their orders that badly. Especially since the officer told one of our readers that it was a city directive.

    Please keep in mind that Fort Thomas Matters and our Facebook page is intended to be a discussion forum for people seeking answers. We just put the information out there for people to discuss, make decisions (in this case - park your car facing the right direction and buckle your seat belt) and possibly take action.

    Mark and I work full-time jobs and we post at night when city offices are generally not open so we put it out there. We love it when city employees engage in the conversation. This is not a paid job for Mark or I that gives us the freedom to call 8 sources and write a traditional 'story'. We don't pretend to be real journalists - we just post information along with our commentary.

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  9. Thanks Lt. Fecher for the update from the big, mean City's side. Might also mention that the City receives no direct revenue benefit from any Uniform Citations (speeding, seatbelts, stop signs, etc.). That money goes in the State's coffers for redistribution as they see fit. Parking tickets are a different matter, but it appears that situation has been resolved. Thanks to the PD for the continued efforts. Unlike some, I do prefer a home where people drive the speed limit, stop for stop signs and buckle their seatbelts even if they have an old car (which I do, too).

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  10. posting anonymously because i can, haha.June 9, 2011 at 10:06 PM

    I find it completely weird how many people park on the wrong side of the street in this town, and it's incredibly obnoxious, I'd love for them to give more tickets for that.

    As for the seat belt thing, I can't really comment, I wear mine 100% of the time, it's really just a habit now, and I can't break it even if I wanted to.

    It seems they've been out more frequently on chesapeake ave/newman, I'm assuming for speeding.

    But seriously, can we get a yield sign where traffic off of 471 South combines with Grand Ave (the traffic making a right turn towards Target/Kroger/etc)? At least last time I took that exit there wasn't a yield sign up, or I'm blind. That lane intersection just seems to beg for accidents with the way people come off of the highway.

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  11. I am happy that Fort Thomas police have nothing better to do than hand out these kind of tickets!

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  12. I have to agree with Lt. Fletcher. Why don't you send and e-mail to the City Mgt with a question on a issue prior to posting. They would respond back to you.

    I have known Officer Fletcher for many years as he used to set off my Van alarm whenever he took out his Harley for a spin and he is correct that the Ft. Thomas police could surely write many more tickets DAILY especially if they were to give them to all the HHS Students that park illegally in cross walks, in front of fire plugs, in no parking zones, on the curbs, in the grass swails, and parked facing the wrong direction on Ft. Thomas Ave. If it were all about just creating revenue they could make a fortune DAILY just in the area around HHS every day as well as during all the sporting and special event times when adults are parking illegally as well.

    IT IS NOT ALL ABOUT JUST RENENUE!

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  13. I got a "wrong side of the street" citation after I'd been doing it for 20+ years. On Newman.

    Police guy told me to not pay it. Evidently everybody who got one is going to get An Offical Letter that says it was all a big misunderstanding.

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  14. Earlier this year I had my license plate ran while I was in the dentist's office getting a cleaning. As I left the dentist's office I was pulled over because my tags were due to expire the next day. Really??? (I had already renewed through the mail and had my sticker at home to put on later that evening).

    I felt this is be a huge invasion of privacy - and maybe a breach in HIPPA law. I think an officer who just sits across from a dentist's office and runs plates all day is a huge waste of time and resources. Shameful.

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  15. I ran in to a lawyer friend of mine down in Covington a couple of weeks ago who had just had the Campbell Co Prosecutor drop DUI charges against a female client of his, who after blowing below the legal limit was still charged by a night shift Ft Thomas officer. He told me that he has it on good authority via an officer in an adjacent city that there is a competition to see who can write the most dui's. I'm not condoning drinking and driving, just a heads up to everyone in the city. Keep those seatbelts on, come to a complete stop, and check your head and tail lights regularly!

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