Oregon state lawmaker is renewing his campaign against lucrative speed traps.
Sen. Floyd Prozanski, D-Eugene, introduced a measure Jan. 13 banning ticketing
agencies from keeping a portion of traffic fines.
2003, Prozanski pushed bills to limit the city of Coburg’s ability to use its
speed-limit enforcement on Interstate 5 as a profit center. His latest effort
would take it statewide.
the revenue collected from traffic offenses flows into the coffers of the
law-enforcement agency’s jurisdiction.
the bill, half of the money collected would be split evenly between the state
school fund, where the money would be earmarked for high school driver’s
education, and police officer training. The remaining half would continue to go
to the court where the cases are handled.
traffic tickets generating $30 million in revenue through the state circuit
courts alone, the bill could mean a big shift of dollars away from local
years, speed as a source of revenue has been a controversial issue for Coburg,
a town of about 1,000 people north of Eugene.
all started with a Coburg motorcycle police officer, stationed outside city
limits to “enforce safety.” The officer knocked out 1,376 speeding tickets in a
six-month period. that’s about 230 tickets a month.
year and a half later, at the urging of state police and sheriff’s departments,
Prozanski sponsored legislation to end the practice, saying it was unethical.
you basically start funding your programs or your departments based on the
revenue you’re bringing in, we lose the focus of what law enforcement believes
is their duty,” Prozanski told Land Line.
later annexed a piece of land east of I-5, which broadened its police department’s
jurisdiction to include the part of the freeway where they were collecting
fines. Meanwhile, the lone motorcycle officer morphed into a traffic team of
eight full-time officers and several reserves.
to The Oregonian, the officers stopped thousands more I-5 drivers in
2003 than the much larger Eugene, Springfield and Lane County departments
combined, writing $1.4 million in tickets.
her state of the city address earlier this month, Coburg Mayor Judy Volta
insisted they are not using the freeway patrols as a way to make money for the
town. The patrols, the fines and where the money is going are all legal.
himself a prosecutor in Florence’s municipal court, said his proposal would
halt other cities or counties from setting up police teams solely for traffic
enforcement. He pointed out the cities of Boardman, along I-84 in north central
Oregon, and Gearhart, along U.S. 101 in northwest Oregon, who are looking at
setting up teams similar to Coburg’s.
expects a fight from a lot of cities and counties who oppose his effort. But he
said it’s important he “put a shot across the bow to make certain communities
know the conduct Coburg has been involved in is not an example they should be
is awaiting assignment to a committee.
– Keith Goble, state legislative editor