Town eludes speed trap designation

(April 28, 2004) - (Reed-AP) -- A judge has declined to immediately free Reed's police force from an order barring it from issuing speeding tickets on U-S 65. The order was issued in December by Prosecutor Thomas Deen, who said the town met the definition of a speed trap under state law. Reed Police Chief Charles Atkins went to court with his challenge to the order. Reed's attorney, Kenneth Johnson, argued before Desha County Circuit Judge Jerry Mazzanti yesterday that the state law was vague and illegal because it applies only to small towns. He also argued that Deen had used incorrect figures in reaching his conclusion that Reed met the state definition of a speed trap. The law says a town is a speed trap if the money it collects from traffic fines is greater than 30 percent of its spending the previous year - excluding spending on capital projects and debt service. According to Deen, Reed took in more than 36-thousand dollars in such fines during a three-month period last year, while the city spent a total of 69-thousand dollars in 2002. But Johnson said the city collected just 31-thousand dollars in fines for all of 2003, and spent roughly 123-thousand dollars. Mazzanti said he would rule on the police chief's request in a couple of weeks.