Damascus defends speed enforcement on Highway 65 | Arkansas Blog

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Damascus defends speed enforcement on Highway 65

Posted By on Thu, May 11, 2017 at 8:16 AM

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As they said they'd do, the city of Damascus has asked a circuit judge to prevent Prosecuting Attorney Cody Hiland fro ending local police enforcement of speed limits on U.S. Highway 65 for a year because the city has been operating a speed trap to finance city government. Hiland has arranged for State Police and deputy sheriffs to fill in.

City Attorney Beau Wilcox, who went to court at the direction of the city council, issued a statement late yesterday on the city's response:

.. Obviously, the City of Damascus is disappointed in the severity and longevity of these sanctions, and that it continues to maintain the position that it adopted at the outset of this investigation. The constitutionality of the Arkansas Speed Trap Law is dubious at best due to its vagueness, its lack of procedural due process, and its arbitrary nature. Moreover, as pointed out in the City of Damascus' March 22, 2017 response to the initial findings by the prosecutor's office, the city believes that it has fallen below the statutory 30 percent revenue threshold, and that the fiscal data used by the Arkansas State Police and the prosecuting attorney's office encompassed tens of thousands of dollars in revenues that were not attributable to traffic offenses in any way.

Certainly there will be cynical individuals who believe that the City of Damascus conducts its law enforcement activities for the sake of greater financial yield. The reality is that Damascus is situated on a heavily trafficked highway where reasonable, plainly posted speed limits (45 miles per hour on Highway 65 within the city limits) are commonly and unfortunately disregarded by many motorists, which creates a public safety issue that the city is legally and morally bound to address with the resources it has at its disposal. For as much media attention as has been devoted to the speed trap issue, precious little has been extended to the fact that there have been few serious automobile accidents within the city in recent years, and no recent fatalities.

Damascus is seeking to nullify Hiland's order and have the speed trap law declared unconstitutional. But the statement adds:

Lastly, I note that despite the City of Damascus' disagreement with the conclusions and sanctions, the city remains appreciative and respectful of Cody Hiland and his staff and the Arkansas State Police for their collective work in this investigation. Although we may now find ourselves in an adversarial proceeding, we believe strongly that bringing this matter before a court of law and equity will provide settled finality to a long-standing, controversial, and unresolved issue.




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