Today, Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt filed a lawsuit against the City of Moscow Mills for allegedly enforcing a ticket quota on their officers, in violation of Senate Bill 5 and accompanying reforms.
“Missourians should not be treated as cash cows to fill municipal coffers. When I was in the State Senate, I led efforts to pass Senate Bill 5 to ensure that citizens are not being treated as ATMs and to end the practice of taxation by citation. Now, as Missouri’s Attorney General, I’m trusted with enforcing those laws,” said Attorney General Schmitt
. “Requiring the brave men and women of law enforcement to focus on driving municipal revenue rather than public safety is against the law.”
The lawsuit alleges that Terry Foster, Chief of Police in Moscow Mills, instructed officers within his department to issue a certain number of citations and hired a “traffic enforcement officer” to write roughly 160 per month in order to secure $160,000 in court citation revenue per year, which was included as a line item in the City of Moscow Mills’ 2021 budget. The lawsuit states, “Chief of Police Terry Foster, on behalf of the City of Moscow Mills, has given instructions to the traffic enforcement officer to write at least ten (10) citations per day, while remaining officers have been given instructions to write a minimum of five (5) citations per month.”
The lawsuit alleges that Chief of Police Terry Foster discussed the implications of violating the law relating to traffic ticket quotas with the City of Moscow Mills and was reassured that there “will be no employment repercussions for him if he is found to have violated such laws.”
Further, the lawsuit alleges that Chief of Police Terry Foster terminated an officer employed by the Moscow Mills Police Department after that officer raised concerns about the ticket quota scheme to the Mayor of Moscow Mills: “On information and belief, when the Chief of Police learned that this officer met with the Mayor, he responded, ‘one way or another, [this officer] is [explicative] gone.’”
The Attorney General’s Office is asking for a preliminary and permanent injunction prohibiting the City of Moscow Mills from enforcing a traffic ticket quota scheme.
The full petition can be found here: https://ago.mo.gov/docs/default-source/press-releases/petition---moscow-mills.pdf?sfvrsn=20a990ff_2