Former Damascus Officer says mayor 'instructed' them to write speeding tickets

Damascus Police can no longer write speed tickets, dubbed 'speed trap'

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) -- Former Damascus Police Department Officer, Samantha Shaw, said she overheard a conversation between Mayor L.B. Pavatt and the former police chief. Revenue was the motive.

"The Mayor was in there yelling at him to write tickets. Get out there, write tickets, write tickets. And so, that's what we did," she said.

Mayor Pavatt did not respond to our multiple requests for comment.

Damascus is on the border of Faulkner and Van Buren County. It’s a small town that has around 400 residents, but the heavily traveled U.S. Highway 65 runs through it. The Faulkner County prosecutor has bared the city of Damascus from patrolling all affected highways within the jurisdictional limits of the city. Last June, Prosecuting Attorney Cody Hiland and State Police began investigating after THV11 found that police write an average of 1,500 tickets a year on the small stretch of State Highway 65 that runs through the town.

If Damascus Police Officers violate this sanction, they will get a Class A misdemeanor per each citation issued.

Police do still have a role in Damascus.

"They can still respond to residential burglary calls, theft calls, and things like that. But, when you violate the public trust, and you've abused your police power, which clearly they have, according to our finding. You've lost the ability to continue to engage in that sort of activity," Prosecuting Attorney Cody Hiland said.

Hiland said those sanctions are in effect for two years. During that time, the Van Buren and Faulkner County Sheriff's Offices and Arkansas State Police can write traffic tickets.

The city of Damascus has filed a petition for injunctive relief. The petition said that Damascus cannot effectively protect its citizens and visitors. It claims that the revenue values included offenses that were not associated with speeding. It said that if those offenses were taken out, Damascus would not reach the 30% threshold to qualify as a speed trap.

© 2017 KTHV-TV


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