RANDOLPH, Missouri - Police mean business in Randolph.
Kansas City, Kansas resident Felipe Aguilar learned his lesson the hard way. Wednesday, he paid a $108 ticket for speeding on his way to the Ameristar Casino.
Felipe explains how he got caught in a speed trap, “As soon as I get off the highway, I mean I tried to slow down a little bit but the police were hiding over there so that's why they pulled me over."
Being out of the public’s view is ordinary police procedure.
However, what has caught the eye of Missouri's auditor is the town's cash flow. A recent audit shows half to two thirds of the town's revenue comes from traffic tickets issued on state and federal highways. That's almost double what's allowed by state law.
The news came as a surprise Wednesday to those who travel through the small town often.
Steve Shocke said, “Every time I see them, they've got people pulled over. I had no idea it was that much revenue that comes from speeding tickets."
Ben Stallings worried about the legality of such collections but said, "They don't have a lot of industry in Randolph. I don't know where they're going to get much income. I'm sure that's why it's a primary source for them."
That income is limited by state law. If a town collects more than its allotted share, it's supposed to turn that money over to the state or to local schools. The state's auditor, Susan Montee, says it appears Randolph has violated Missouri law.
The law was originally created to discourage speed traps by limiting traffic ticket collection to just 35% of the town’s revenue.
The audit showed Randolph generated $270,043 in 2009. Between $134,090 and $148,393 of that money came from traffic violations on state and federally owned highways. It also noted that Randolph didn’t have any way of tracking the extra money flow that should be going to the state.
Even after repeated calls and requests, Randolph officials were not available for comment Wednesday. The town’s mayor, Alan Long, avoided our crew when they knocked on his front door.
Randolph Municipal Judge Gregory Dorsey responded in a written statement attached to the audit. He said the city attorney will be calculating how much of the past revenues need to be paid to the state. A new computer software system should help guard against any future violations of the law.