Concord was found in violation of the Arkansas Speed Trap Law
The city of Concord was notified on Wednesday that it was found to be in violation of the Arkansas Speed Trap Law. The Sun-Times previously reported in September that Concord was under investigation for potentially violating the law.
According to the law, a municipality is in violation if they are exercising police power to enforce criminal and traffic laws for the principal purpose of raising revenue for the municipality and not for the public service and welfare on a state highway. Also, the amount of revenue produced by fines and costs from misdemeanor tickets cannot exceed more than 30% of the municipality's expenditures. It is also against the law for more than 50% of traffic tickets to be written for speed limit violations that are 10mph or less than the posted speed limit.
In the letter delivered to Mayor Warren Rone, Sr. and Concord City Marshall Bobby Hopson, Prosecuting Attorney Don McSpadden informed the city that his office had received complaints from citizens of Concord, other citizens of Cleburne County, and citizens from outside the state concerning the Marshall's alleged 'abuse of power."
McSpadden stated in the letter that Concord was found to have violated the statute. He went on to say that "the city receives 38% of its income from traffic violations. I am further advised that this year will be worse than the period investigated."
The "Town of Concord Marshall's Office is hereby ordered to cease patrolling any and all state highways within the Town of Concord," said McSpadden. "He is further ordered to cease issuing citations for traffic offenses involving state or town misdemeanor violations. This is effective from 10:00am Monday, November 11, 2013 until further notified by this office."
McSpadden informed the city that this ruling affects only traffic violations and patrolling of the state highway that runs through Concord. He praised Hopson for his work on felony cases prosecuted in the city and that it had no effect on his ability to continue working on criminal violations within his jurisdiction.
State police will assist local law enforcement in helping monitor traffic on the state highway. "We will not change what we do in Concord," said Sheriff Marty Moss. "We will do everything we can to help the people of Concord maintain the level of law enforcement they deserve."
Mayor Warren Rone, Sr. of Concord acknowledged that the city did exceed state law in ticket revenue. "At this point in time, the only thing we are guilty of is being 8% over the state law in revenue," said Rone.
McSpadden informed the city that the sanction on Concord could be lifted at such a time as they are able to determine that the Marshall's Office "is willing to operate as a law enforcement agency and not solely as a revenue producing agency."