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Saturday, April 22, 2017

FOX 11 Investigates: Speeding tickets in Rosendale, Wisconsin

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Story thanks to Robert Hornacek and fox11online.com. Links provided:
Nov, 2016  ROSENDALE (WLUK) -- The Village of Rosendale has a bit of a reputation for issuing a lot of speeding tickets. FOX 11 Investigates decided to look into the issue.
Check out the t-shirts for sale at the local convenience store: Rosendale. Just the ticket.
"We have sold thousands every year, people not only in Wisconsin but all over the U.S." said Elizabeth Crook, who is one of the owners of Bluemke's. Crook also sits on the village board.
"I just think that over the years, people have realized that they must go the speed limit," Crook said.
Chris Lusk of Oshkosh found that out firsthand in August.
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"I saw him turn his lights on. I was like okay. I really wasn't speeding," Lusk said.
Lusk says he was slowing down on his way into town, where the speed limit drops from 45 to 30. He doesn't think he deserved a ticket.
"There's a difference between enforcing the law and knowing that people aren't intentionally trying to speed through that town," Lusk said.
Lusk is certainly not alone. FOX 11 Investigates looked into the numbers to see just how many speeding tickets are issued by Rosendale Police.
We went back five years and here's what we found: According to data from the Lakeside Municipal Court, Rosendale Police issued 2,150 speeding tickets in 2011; in 2012 - 1,903 tickets; 2013 - 1,780 tickets; 2014 - 1,574 tickets; in 2015, one of the main roads was under construction for several months, police issued 1,162 speeding tickets.
That works out to an average of 1,714 tickets a year. To put that into perspective, Green Bay, which is 100 times larger than Rosendale, issued an average 1,542 speeding tickets per year over that same period.
We sat down with Rosendale police chief Kevin Verdine to find out why Rosendale issues that many tickets.
"Everyone says we only issue citations and that's all Rosendale is known for. But we issue 800-900 warnings a year in addition to the citations," Verdine told FOX 11.
Verdine, who has been chief since 2002, says his officers only issue a ticket if someone is going 10 or more over the speed limit. He says the village is unique: It has two state highways that go through a residential area. Each highway has a school.
According the village's comprehensive plan, one weakness identified by a village committee is that Rosendale is "considered a 'speed trap'" by some. 
When asked what he would say to people who would call Rosendale a 'speed trap,' Verdine replied, "I would say that my definition of a speed trap would be an officer hiding in a driveway, behind a bush, right at a change speed limit sign on the other side waiting for somebody. And we're not doing that. We're trying to get a high visibility patrol out there to get the motorists to slow down."
Since the number of tickets issued each year has gone down slightly, Verdine says drivers are getting the message.
"We haven't changed anything in what we're doing. We're still out there patrolling," Verdine said.
Lusk sees it differently.
"I think that they're basically trying to make money for the town," Lusk said.
FOX 11 tried to find out how much money the village has collected from speeding tickets but village leaders say they do not have specific records for that. We can tell you that over the last five years, the village brought in an average of $107,075 per year for all citations. Speeding is the most common, but that dollar figure also includes more than three dozen other offenses, like operating after suspension, failure to stop and driving without insurance.
"If you wouldn't speed you wouldn't be getting a ticket," said Rosendale Village President Duane Ciske.
FOX 11 asked Ciske what he would say to people who think Rosendale is just trying generate revenue. He replied, "We do get money from it, obviously, because of the fines and everything else. But if we could reduce the speed and not write all the tickets, we'd be happy about that also."
While Rosendale is pretty well known as a place where police write a lot of speeding tickets, it's not the only small town in this area doing it. Just a few miles down the road is the town of Ripon. Over the last five years, Town of Ripon police have issued an average of 1,126 speeding tickets per year.
"The reason that I feel it is is people aren't paying attention to the speed that they're going," said Capt. Howard Stibb. He has been with the Town of Ripon Police Department for 34 years.
When asked what he would say to people who would call the Town of Ripon a 'speed trap,' Stibb responded, "I would disagree with it."
"A speed trap in my mind is where signs are hidden or you drive past a billboard or something like that. We're normally parked out where a person can see us," Stibb said.
As for Chris Lusk, he's still trying to fight his speeding ticket in Rosendale. He says he doesn't expect his fine to be lowered. Lusk also says he will continue to drive through Rosendale, he will closely watch his speed.
"A little more careful and make sure that I'm probably under the speed limit," Lusk said.
That's just fine for residents like Elizabeth Crook.
"We want people to come to our town but we want them to slow down when they come through," Crook said.
So instead of getting a ticket, drivers may just get a t-shirt.


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