I’ll begin by saying that I did not get a ticket. I’m stipulating that right up front, because I know some of you smart-alecks are going to ask. I haven’t had a ticket, in fact, since I accidentally tapped a crossing guard with the front end of my Volkswagen in high school. And he had it coming. Don’t worry, he limped away just fine.
So here’s the thing. I frequently drive a stretch of Kansas highway that passes through Park City. There’s a point where the speed limit changes from 70 miles an hour to 60 at the top of a rise. The Park City police are fond of waiting just on the other side of that rise, in order to issue speeding tickets to people who don’t slow down fast enough. What sticks in my craw is that this doesn’t by any stretch of the imagination protect the citizens of Park City. People could drive flaming oil tankers at 100 miles an hour along that stretch of highway, and it wouldn’t disrupt the quality of life in Park City one bit, other than maybe cutting down their street-light bills. Whether this is just individual officers doing it because they like playing “gotcha,” or an unstated policy from higher up, it appears to onlookers that the Park City Police Department is targeting highway drivers in order to enrich the town’s coffers.
Now this might be forgivable in an age of tight municipal budgets, but I did a little checking into the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports. It turns out that while Park City’s violent crime rate last year was lower than the average for other small Kansas cities and towns with populations below 10,000, its property crime rate was higher, with seven more citizens per thousand victimized. With Park City’s population that works out to 54 more property crimes than would have occurred if its crime rate were only average.
I could understand putting officers on highway patrol if the town were already exceptionally safe. With the average Park City resident’s property at greater risk of theft or vandalism than that of other small-town Kansans, however, it seems like the police department has more important work to do.
And if you’re wondering why Park City sounds familiar, that’s because it was the home of the notorious BTK killer, who had a long track record of harassing his neighbors and other citizens. Perhaps it’s not fair to expect the Park City police to have uncovered him, but I’m thinking that if you work in law enforcement where one of the nation’s worst serial killers lived undetected for a dozen years, AND you are doing below average at protecting the property of your citizens, then maybe you might want to focus on patrolling your own streets rather than nabbing highway speeders. I’m just saying.