The Owensville police department is denying a report published in Cincy Business magazine this month that lists the village as ranking fourth in the greater Cincinnati area for issuing speeding tickets.
Even though the article, which is entitled ‘Highway Robbery,’ used statistics obtained in 2005 to determine the rankings, WLWT-TV (Channel 5) picked up on the article and ran a special news feature about it two weeks ago.
In that television report, two unidentified people said that they had not personally been pulled over and issued speeding tickets, but that they had witnessed it and know it to be true that Owensville is a speed trap.
Owensville officials are very concerned with the high ranking because they feel that the article, and the subsequent news feature, are not only untrue, but are flagrantly misinforming the public.
The May 2007 magazine article implies that the amount of tickets written in the village correlates with the number of residents who live in the village, when in fact there is no correlation there, Day said. The amount of tickets written is in fact only proportional to the amount of traffic that comes through the village.
The Owensville police department is claiming that the article has other false information as well.
"The article claims that the village is a speed trap because we are making a ton of money off speeding tickets, and nothing could be further from the truth. Take out court costs, state costs, and other administration expenses, and about $30 goes to the village. I take offense to that because they are basically calling me a thief," Day said. "No one in Owensville is making a large amount of money from any tickets. None of the police officers that work in Owensville make a lot of money. We are all part-time officers; we receive no benefits."
Day said that to imply that the village police pull people over for money is irresponsible and absurd.
The village does get some revenue from citations, but Owensville officials take exception to the fact that they have been accused of trapping people to get their money. Day said the money generated from an average 1.3 speeding citations that are written daily in the village barely covers the gasoline needed for the patrol cars that are monitoring the village.
Owensville has a policy that no one gets pulled over and issued a speeding ticket unless they are going 10 miles per hour over the posted 35 mph village speed limit (excluding the two village school zones).
The Owensville police department has written letters to Cincy Business magazine and Channel 5 disputing the claims that Owensville is a speed trap; they have yet to receive a response (Channel 5 did not even consult with Owensville before airing their piece).
In 2006, Owensville police wrote 472 minor misdemeanor citations, which is in the speeding category. According to Day, who was on the village police force in 2005, every one of these issued citations is counted as a speeding violation, when in fact some were for seatbelt violations, improper display violations, or equipment violations. The village feels that the amount of annual tickets issued are not properly examined to see if they were all for speeding citations. They all get lumped together and this may account for the high ranking.
"We want people to know that we also gave out 307 warnings last year for speed instead of citations for the hundreds of vehicles that come through the village every day on U.S. 50.," said Day. "If we were a speed trap, as this article erroneously implies, we would have written all of those speeders up and not even bothered to give any warnings."
Despite the claims made in Cincy Business magazine, Owensville wants the village to know that they are not a speed trap.
"There are no quotas in the village," said Police Chief Paul Sturgill. "We think that our speed limit policy is very generous. That is why we are taking exception to the ranking of being fourth in the area. We are not a speed trap and any claims otherwise are just not true."
Cincy Business magazine ranked Cincinnati's speeding ticket hotspots based on cases processed through the greater Cincinnati mayor's courts in 2005. The three Clermont County locations that made the top ten are Newtonsville (#3), Owensville (#4), and Newtown (#10). Amelia, New Richmond, Felicity, and Milford all made the top 30.
The National Motorist's Association reports that the towns and villages in the state of Ohio lead the nation in issuing speeding tickets.