LPD Accused Of Generating Revenue Over Public Service
Here's a weird story that's come out of the Lawton Police Department. There's an accusation that from on high, the directive over the last few years for LPD officers is to write as many tickets as possible, every shift, no exceptions. It's a damning accusation coming at a time when the City of Lawton is experiencing its deepest lack of trust and transparency in public opinion in decades.
As the story goes... Having lived in Lawton for so long, it's only natural that I've ended up on a first name basis with countless current and past officers of our police department here in town. We seem to always end up at the same public events, and a familiar face is always fun to catch up with in the chaos of something like Open Streets or the International Festival. This past year though, as we all know too well, public events have been on hold due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. It has affected us all differently on a personal level, others on a professional level, and while "needing necessary cuts to public services" due to a lack of revenue, the City of Lawton swears they've taken a huge hit... but this story begins right as the pandemic hit.
It was at one of the last public events we were apart of in February 2020 that a conversation took place between myself and one of my longtime friends and fine officer of LPD (who shall remain anonymous to protect their current position) about the city losing hundreds of thousands of dollars due to a very messy lawsuit. This was when rulings came down and a resolution was decided on concerning the accusations surrounding the previous City of Lawton Attorney Frank Jensen. Hearing the details from someone on the inside like that was, and I'll admit hearsay, but still just disgraceful. Luckily though, the pandemic took off as if Stan Booker was wagging the dog and drew all attention away from the poor decisions made in the Mayors Office and on the City Council. How you can both fire for cause and still allow employment long enough to reach civil retirement pension is beyond me, but again, that's the story I was told. It's a really good something to hop into at another time, but only a jumping off part of this tale.
In March of 2020, when the pandemic so casually stole the attention away from the despicable judgement of our elected leaders, revenues instantly started to shrink when everyone started distancing themselves from others, let along when our city council decided to shutter businesses for a month completely cutting off a bulk of tax monies. That's about the same time my confidential source said the emphasis on policing our communities came to be ticketing and generating revenue. It's an easier way to gain monies without fighting the label of "regressive taxes." Worse off, they insist this order came all the way from the top. Now I'm not sure if "the top" consists of. I mean, if we're talking about "the top" of LPD, the buck stops with Chief Smith... but given his resume and no-nonsense approach to his job, and to mention his pleasant reputation, it's hard to think this particular buck stops there. Especially when you look at other events that took place in the city council chamber.
This particular ladder climbs higher. How high the directive was declared was never stated in the story I was told in confidentiality, but the plot does thicken.
If you'll remember, over the course of Summer 2020, a hike in the cost of traffic fines was proposed, voted, and made official to take effect on September 1st. Worse off, the decision was apparently universally unpopular with our boys in blue at LPD. So much so, some officers left while others are staying just to hit that retirement age. So who is responsible for turning our police into ticket dispensers? Simply, I don't have enough information for that, and quite frankly, you should call up your city councilor and ask them. Surely they'll have an answer for how they've taken such a fiscal hit they've had to cut services to the public and somehow managed to purchase the Central Mall for +/-$5million more than it was bought for in 2019 when Dillards was still there...
Keep in mind, it's not my story. It's one shared by a source behind the shield. I only wish I could also remain anonymous because something tells me I'll be seeing red and blue in my rear view for a while after this... All the same, as easy as our elected officials give out free money to their cronies, maybe I'll be able to catch a decent harassment settlement out of it too.
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