there are 90 cities in St. Louis,
and one of them is #Ferguson.
Every one in North St. Louis county knows you don’t drive one mile an hour over the speed limit in Calverton Park. What? You have never heard of Calverton Park? How can that be!
Here is a map for you. Look close, see that tiny dashed line? It goes around the tiny town of Calverton Park. I used to live next to Calverton Park in an even littler town called Burke City (which doesn’t even show up on Google Maps by the way). What does Calverton Park have to do with the problems in Ferugson? A lot, a whole lot. Let us dig deeper. If you live in Ferguson and you want to go somewhere, there is a real good chance you will have to drive through Calverton Park, and that is a problem. Calverton Park is a city with 600 residents and 14 cops, and a nice long hill. If you are driving from Ferguson to most of the rest of North County you will go to highway 270 and the road you will most likely use is North Florissant rd.
If you watched the riots in Ferguson you will be familiar with South Florissant rd. It is where the police station is and where much of the riot activity was in Nov. of 2014. North Florissant rd is what South Florissant rd turns into, ( I have to apologize to those of you who don’t live here and get confused by all the roads having almost the same name, and don’t even get me started about how West Florissant rd. is East of North/South Florissant road, but I digress). If you live in Ferguson you will drive down this road almost every week if not every day. When you hit Calverton Park you are going down a two mile hill, when the speed limit drops and you go straight into a speed trap. Everybody knows it is there, heck we have almost all gotten a ticket there. That is why Calverton Park needs so many police, they are famous nation wide for speeding, and other tickets. Don’t believe me ask NBC News, or Fox News. I could go on but what’s the point.
If you don’t live here you have got to be scratching your head over Ferguson. How did things get so screwed up there? For the record I don’t live in Burke City any more, or Florissant, or Black Jack, or Pasadena Hills, I live in Hazelwood. However, I have lived in all of these cities at one point in time over the last 55 years or so, but moved no further than 5 miles from any one of these places, and got a new city every time I moved. These tiny cities are a big part of the problem.
Like Ferguson these little tiny cites are all over the place here. When I meet someone from somewhere else I say I’m from St. Louis, not Burke City or Florissant or Hazelwood. Nobody has ever heard of them, even local people don’t know all the cities. Come on lets get real, did you know there was a Burke City? Even people who lived here all their lives have no idea.
What does this have to do with Ferguson I can almost here you saying. Live in Ferguson or almost anywhere in North County and you will spend a lot of time going through tons of these tiny towns that make their money by issuing tickets. Here is another famous one Charlack, MO.
Take a close look, see that tiny sliver of Charlack that runs down Lackland road? Notice how it goes across Hwy 170? That tiny spot is just the size of a police car, and they park one on the highway there often. Other times they sit on the overpass with a radar gun to get you when you drive through the 2o feet of Charlack. Where the line hits 170 again is another great spot to get a ticket. Guess where Charlack is? Right under Ferguson. That’s right, they get you coming and going when you live in Ferguson. To the East you have Dellwood, and Moline Acres. My wife got a ticket in Moline Acres once for parking in a no parking zone (designated by a green sign behind a bush). The judge threw the ticket out when he noted that the ticket was issued to our company, and companies don’t drive cars.
To the West of Ferguson lies Berkeley, MO. and it has a famous speed trap too. When you go down James S. McDonnell Blvd and you are right by the airport they will give you a ticket if you blink. Over the past 40 years both my wife and I have gotten a ticket there in the same spot. In my wife’s case they listed her as a male, and trust me she is all woman. When we went to go pay the ticket they wouldn’t take cash (which the last time I checked says on it “Legal Tender for All Depts, Public and Private”).
When you hear the statistics about how often a black person in Ferguson is arrested when they are pulled, perhaps this will help. They are surrounded by speed traps and tiny towns that make owe their existence to citations issued by disproportionately large police departments. The middle class and lower class residents of Ferguson (who mostly happen to be black) wind up not being able to afford the ticket, don’t go to court and wind up getting pulled over again at another speed trap and this time the have a warrant out for their arrest.
The Washington Post recently reported that some of these small cities rake in as much as 40% of their revenue from court costs and associated fines and fees.
If we can change the law in Missouri to make this illegal we will solve several problems. Our local government will have to find other ways to pay the bills, there will be far less tickets, and some of our cities will have to give up police duties to the county of St. Louis. This will result in less warrants, less arrests of black members of North County who will in turn start the healing process of not thinking that every cop is out to get them.
I live in North County, these are my neighbors, they are not bad people. If you watch TV you might think they are, but please don’t confuse most of the hard working folks who live in my neck of the woods with those who burn down buildings and loot. My neighbors are just frustrated by our justice system (as am I) here is a good place to start making a difference.
Conveniently such a bill was recently considered in Missouri. Back in 1995 a State legislator in Missouri got a ticket in another tiny Missouri town called Mack‘s Creek, a town it turned out that was funded over 85% by tickets. This legislator introduced a bill that wound up changing State law regarding how much revenue a town could receive from tickets. A revision to this law (called the Mack’s Creek law) was considered in 2013. I am not a reporter, I am an auctioneer, I don’t know what happened with this law but I hope it can be brought up again if it didn’t pass. I will let you know what I find out. Stay tuned…..