The village police chief of Brice – once a well-known speed trap – said he couldn’t remember the last time he issued a speeding ticket.
According to Franklin County Municipal Court records, Chief Bud Bauchmoyer and his only full-time officer filed only one ticket on Friday in the year 2021 – a remote offense insured in March.
This is quite a change for the village of 93 inhabitants (according to the 2020 census). Brice has used speed cameras in recent years to generate up to three-quarters of his general fund income.
Since May, when the village shut down its seemingly illegal system of civil offenses to issue speeding tickets and collect fines through a third-party seller, court records show no application of the highway code to Brice, at least not in the form of Citations de la Cour.
Even in 2020, when the village’s camera system issued civil speeding tickets all year round, Brice police only filed three traffic violation cases in the municipal court, according to the files.
Bauchmoyer initially told The Dispatch that the village police had “focused on issues other than speed” this year, including red light violations, assured distance violations and motorists who did not renew. their vehicle registrations since the state ended a pandemic. grace period requested in July.
Informed of the total absence of tickets filed by the village police with the municipal court in recent months, Bauchmoyer replied: “This does not mean that we do not apply the law. This does not mean that we do not answer service calls. This does not mean that we do not provide services to the inhabitants of the village and to the people who pass by there.
“Anyone who asks you that says we’re still out there… We can be a visual deterrent, making traffic stops and, under the revised (Ohio) code, writing a ticket or not is strictly at the discretion of the agent. “
Until recently, the village aggressively enforced speeding tickets using a camera-based system through which BlueLine Solutions, a third-party supplier, sent tickets and collected fines. Those who challenged their teleprinters were summoned to an administrative hearing in the village.
The most recent audits of the village finances by the Ohio Auditor’s Office found that Brice’s share of fines collected under his contractual agreement with BlueLine was $ 202,078 in 2017 and $ 171,660. $ in 2018. An audit for 2016 showed that the $ 171,611 collected that year represented 73%. revenue from the general village fund.
When asked how the police department generates revenue these days, Bauchmoyer said that was not his concern.
“My job is to do my job, not to worry about the money,” he said. “Some people mistakenly believe that the police department only has money if we write tickets.”
The village, which surrounds the intersections of Brice and Refugee Roads just south of Reynoldsburg, has suspended its civil speeding ticket program amid a series of court challenges accusing it of violating a law of the State of 2019 and a decision of the Ohio Supreme Court the following year.
Last year, a Franklin County municipal court judge dismissed speeding tickets issued by Brice in two separate cases disputed in his courtroom, ruling that the citations violated state law.
The Ohio legislature had approved an amendment to the state’s Revised Code, which came into effect in July 2019, which gave municipal courts “exclusive jurisdiction” over all civil traffic violations, apparently ending the way Brice handled business administratively.
In Magsig vs. City of Toledo, the Ohio Supreme Court unanimously ruled in 2020 that Toledo was violating that law by holding administrative hearings for those contesting tickets generated by traffic surveillance cameras in the city. city - the same system that Brice used.
Yet Brice continued to use BlueLine to manage the village ticket office and administrative hearings to process ticket calls until early 2021.
Bauchmoyer said the village, acting on the advice of its lawyer, had suspended civil camera enforcement of speeding offenses pending a Supreme Court ruling in a pending case involving the city of Dayton.
A Toledo-area lawyer who prevailed in the Magsig case said the Supreme Court had already ruled on who has jurisdiction over civil traffic violations in its 2020 ruling.
“There is nothing to expect,” said attorney Andrew Mayle. “The court said the municipal courts have exclusive jurisdiction. (Brice) cannot, or will not recognize, that the Supreme Court ruled on the exact same issue and that they have since violated that ruling.”
The action – or inaction – of the Brice police service since the suspension of its camera speed control system shows that it has been engaged for years in a “for-profit police”, a- he declared.
“Now that the profit motive is gone, they don’t police at all,” Mayle said. “They leave a lot of camera tickets for money, and then when they have to go to court and do it the right way, they don’t deposit any. The only conclusion is that they didn’t. only for the money. “
The Dayton case in the state Supreme Court does not even address jurisdictional issues relating to the application of civil traffic offenses, argues Mayle.
Village attorney Brian Zets of Isaac Wiles & Burkholder did not return a message last week requesting comment on this story and an update on the state of public records requested by The Dispatch.