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Law Enforcement as A Source of Municipal Revenue

I have not had a traffic ticket in well over ten years. I deserved that one. Now, every time I see someone get a ticket I wonder why they were pulled over. Was it to enforce the law, or was it because the agency, whether the CHP, the Sheriff, or the local police, needed more money. Yeah, they do not get it directly, but the more they direct to government coffers, the more they get.

It is not just traffic tickets either. I won't go into fees and permits that are only tangentially related to law, just as an example, how about home alarms (probably business alarms too, but I don't have one). Not too long ago, I drove down to a nearby 7-11. I set the house alarm. I realized I'd forgotten my wallet and returned home after going less than a mile. The alarm was sounding. I turned it off and notified the alarm company that all was OK since it seemed to be. A few days later I received a false alarm bill from the City of Los Angeles. I am absolutely sure there had been no response to the alarm. There was no "door hanger" telling me the police had been there (unlikely anyway, since they do not even respond to murders in the area within a minute or two). No one knocked on the door during the next 18 hours or so (I stayed home since I was concerned about the cause of the alarm). The police did nothing, but I got billed, and the police permit folk never replied to my letters of complaint and inquiry.

Anyone else have their own experience or complaint about law enforcement as a revenue source. 

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Autumn January 29, 2014 at 01:26 PM
I live in Sherman Oaks.....VNPD has been amazing. Since we have installed cameras around our property we have made several calls regarding concerns. Their response to calls have been timely and thorough. THANK YOU VNPD YOU ARE AWESOME!!!!
Shari S January 29, 2014 at 01:44 PM
So glad to see your blog. I have been upset about getting a speeding ticket. Problem is that I wasn't speeding! I just about had heart failure when I was shown a radar with 83 on it. That wasn't me & when asking to see the date or time stamp on it, there is none? How our Highway Patrol can randomly show some radar reading & say its you when it wasn't. My digital speedometer said I was doing between 63 & 67 at the highest. In the past, I have had a highway patrolman lead me off a fwy & take me to the rear of a dark deserted parking lot & harass me for 45 mins. That incident made my insurance go up $100 mo. Or how about when I was 16 & a highway patrolman pulled me over, wanted sex & when I refused, he gave me a ticket for going too slow. It's time we stand up against this type of injustice towards women. When I was in line at the courthouse, 3 other women reported being led off the freeway & harassed too. It's not fair & to fight these tickets they want us to pay for them in advance? If we happen to win, we get to wait weeks to have our money returned? And what's with a parking ticket costing more than most make in a day?
Brian Aherne January 29, 2014 at 04:08 PM
Sharon -There is no VNPD. It is the same LAPD, just a division or a station. I am sure some divisions and locations are better than others, but the revenue aspects are probably the same and come from the headquarters downtown. Unfortunately, the problem is not unique to Los Angeles or even California. Still, be glad for the assistance and the lack of problems.
Brian Aherne January 29, 2014 at 04:23 PM
Shari- Your experience is not unique, which is not just too bad, it is horrible. One of your points could be called incorrect -I do not think you wait weeks for your "bail" money to be returned if you win, it may be more in the month or months category. That raises another point that I may address in the future -it is not just the fines, it this "cost" and that "cost" which are add-ons that are revenue enhancers for governments and their departments. By-the-way, does it occur to anyone that "bail" for minor traffic offences is essentially another way for government to "borrow" your money, interest free? If this were a minor misdemeanor (which is worse than a traffic infraction) and you were an average person you'd probably be released on your own recognizance. Not so with traffic tickets -they expect you to post bail, but then forfeit bail because it is easier, particularly if you work or must take care of kids or elderly relatives.

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