June 12, 2012
Summer’s upon us, and if you’re thinking about a trip to Zion National Park in Utah you may want to make sure you have some greenbacks before heading out.
About a month ago, we reported on cops in Tennessee legally “stealing” $20,000 cash from a New Jersey man who was driving through the state to purchase a vehicle.
It seems that “policing-for-profit” has taken a new form in Springdale, Utah where the AP reports that cops outside of Zion National Park have been stopping foreign tourists and accepting cash for citations.
Apparently they get a lot of tourists going through the area and it’s a problem for the city to collect money from citations given to out-of-townees, so Police Chief Kurt Wright thought it would be okay to allow officers to collect on-the-spot fines.
Now the only thing making it “okay” is that auditors have no way of telling how much money was actually pocketed (in other words “stolen”) from besieged motorists.
The AP reports: “State auditor Auston G. Johnson tells The Associated Press he can’t prove that Springdale police pocketed any traffic fines and doesn’t know how much money is missing but will file his report to Washington County attorneys for possible prosecution.” Whether any disciplinary action will be taken (lacking the proper evidence to convict anybody) is probably not likely.
It’s further suspicious that auditors couldn’t find some of the tickets issued by officers in police or court records. To the layman, this might be charged as “destruction of evidence,” but we’ll see what happens to the Springdale PD.
In an effort to curb the problem, Utah state auditors have told police to stop taking cash-for-tickets.