Sonny Fulks
Sonny Fulks
Managing Editor

Sonny Fulks is a graduate of Ohio State University and pitched four varsity seasons for the Buckeye baseball team from 1971 through 1974.  He furthered his baseball career as a minor league league umpire for seven years, working in the Florida State League (A), the Southern League (AA), and the American Association (AAA).  He has written for numerous websites, and for eight years served as a regular columnist and photo editor for Gettysburg Magazine, published by Morningside Books, in Dayton, Ohio.  Widely knowledgable on that period of American History, Fulks is a frequent speaker on the Civil War at local roundtables throughout the country.  Involved with a number of writing projects, he and wife Mindy have two grown children and live in Covington, Ohio.

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One of the state’s most notorious traffic “speed traps” just got busted…twice.  And guess who they’re blaming for catching them at their own game?

In my 60 years I can truthfully claim some personal pride for standing on the side of law enforcement agencies, local, state, and federal.

But, in light of the present controversy in the Cincinnati suburb of Arlington Heights, I have to smile.  Hey…I have to laugh.

If you listen to 700 WLW and talk show host Scott Sloan, you’ve no doubt heard about the Arlington Heights mayor and police department complaining about Sloan blowing the whistle over the air about what’s apparently been one of state’s most notorious traffic “speed traps”, accountable for hundreds of thousands of dollars collected for village revenue. So hot did Sloan make it during his daily diatribe that it came to a head last week when patrolmen were pulled off the Arlington streets by city officials…because drivers were honking their horns and laughing at them as they sat on duty by the side of the road.

“When Scott Sloan runs us into the dirt like he did today he encourages drivers to basically distract officers while they are attempting to do their jobs.”  said Arlington police chief Ken Harper.  Really?

Please, Chief, you’d be more convincing if you’d take at least some responsibility for creating panic in old people and teenagers when you flash the lights and bust them for going 30 in a 25 mile per hour zone.  I was born at night, as some like to say.  But I wasn’t born last night.

I’ve been on the road long enough to learn about places like Arlington Heights, North Hampton (Clark County), and Sciotoville, Ohio (Scioto County).  I’ve personally watched patrolmen flash the lights on people and observed their panic when trying to maneuver through traffic and get to the side of the road with a cruiser on their tail.  And frankly, for the sake of public safety I’d rather take my chances with them going the extra 5 miles per hour.

For one, in Sciotoville the speed limit drops from 55 mph north of town to 50 the minute you hit the city limits, within a span of 50 feet.  Pardon me for being a little cynical, but that sucks.  I’m surprised they don’t have to handle a few panic heart attacks when they walk up to a stopped car.

And two, if they were that concerned about controlling speed in places like North Hampton don’t you think they’d park the patrol cars more conspicuously?  You see a squad car and you’re immediately conscious of your speed.  Right?

No, they park back in a driveway or an alley, looking for revenues in the form of “40-in-a-35-zone” ticket.

To add more insult to the Arlington Heights scenario, someone in the city office has apparently helped themselves to some of the city’s ticket money.  It was reported last week that more than $100,000 is missing from the municipal treasury.  And hey, it’s a very small administrative staff, from mayor at the top to the patrolman on the street, so you do the math.  And try to figure out while you’re doing it…just why there’s so much importance given to writing speeding tickets in places like Arlington Heights.

I really don’t know how widespread the practice of “speed traps” is in small municipalities around the state, but over the past weekend I asked law enforcement officials in southern Ohio, and they all shrugged their shoulders and used the well-worn excuse that traffic enforcement is a top priority in terms of public safety.

Excuse me again for my cynicism.  And I’m just guessing when I say this…that it’s right up there with revenue “enhancement”!

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