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'Police Trap Ahead' sign starts discussion

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GERONIMO, Okla._There's controversy in Geronimo over a sign just off Highway 277.

The posted sign 'police trap ahead' and is posted for northbound drivers to see it just before you enter the southern city limits. The sign has also grabbed the attention of Geronimo Mayor Ed Mounts, and he is now encouraging citizens to voice their concerns at their next town hall meeting.

"I'll tell you honestly that it is not a speed trap. Do our officers patrol? Yes they do," said Mayor Mounts.

Legally, the town isn't a speed trap. Oklahoma law prohibits towns and cities from generating more than half of their revenue through the collection of traffic fines on highways. Geronimo has collected more than $35,000 this year on traffic fines, but their total budget is close to $400,000. That's less than 9 percent.

"We are no where near it and out of that total that was brought in through law enforcement it's not all off the highway," explained Mayor Mounts.

Some residents have complained that too many officers are on the highway and not enough are in town but Mounts says the highway has to be monitored because there are five Geronimo streets that intersect with the highway.

"We have 2,000 people that go in and out of those five entrances every single day and if anything ever happened to somebody out there from a speeder, or a drunk driver, the first question they're going to ask is where was law enforcement," said Mayor Mounts.

Also, that stretch of highway isn't your typical speed trap because it stays at 65 mph the entire length by Geronimo.

"It actually goes from 55 to 65 and runs 65 all the way up till you hit the intersection by Walters. It doesn't change. It doesn't vary until you get past Geronimo [when] it drops down to 55," said Mayor Mounts.

The mayor adds that just a year ago the police had little presence in the town and has finally built up the department, and maybe people are just now getting used to getting caught for what slipped by in the past.

"With every decision we make there is a consequence. If you choose to speed and a police officer pulls you over they are doing their job," said Mayor Mounts.

Mounts says the sign has had some positives; when people pass it they are slowing down.

"It's not necessarily a bad thing. That sign could save someone's life. Someone sees it, ‘oh I need to slow down’," said Mayor Mounts.

Mounts says the owner has the right to free speech and the sign will stay as long as the owner wants.

The subject will be open for discussion at the upcoming city hall meeting Thursday, July 3, at 7:00 p.m. at the city hall.

 

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