Council wants LPD to issue more tickets

Published 6:40 pm Thursday, December 11, 2014

Blue lights may soon become more commonplace in Luverne. Councilmen voiced concerns that the police department was not issuing enough traffic citations.

Councilman Jerry Sipper, a former officer with the Luverne Police Department, was the first to say he thought the number of traffic citations issued in a two-week period should be more than the 12 to 13 routinely reported in the summary provided by Police Chief Paul Allen.

“And it’s not only just a speeding ticket when you stop a vehicle. You may run up on somebody when you run a background check that he’s wanted for something bad. You may find marijuana. You may find stolen goods,” Sipper said. “There’s a lot of things that can happen out of a vehicle stop.”

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At Monday’s meeting, Councilman Randall Parker agreed the number was too low. Between Nov. 21 and Dec. 5, Luverne police officers issued 12 traffic citations and four warnings for various traffic offenses.

“I’m with Councilman Sipper, this two weeks, 12 citations? I see more (traffic offenses) than that in a morning,” he said.

Chairman Pro-Tem Charlie Johnson said the council used to appoint a councilman as police commissioner. Mayor Joe Rex Sport was absent from the meeting due to illness.

The commissioner was not in charge of the police department. City attorney Mike Jones said the commissioner acted as a liaison to the department.

Sipper said he supported re-establishing the commissioner position. When he was an officer, he said the area was known as a speed trap. He and Parker agreed that was not the goal, but someone needed to hold the department accountable.

“It’s left up to us, if we want to go with that form of government, the buck stops with us,” Johnson said. “Let’s think on that and maybe at the next council meeting, we take some action on it.”

While the councilmen consider police commissioner options, Councilman S.P. Walker suggested the mayor or mayor pro-tem talk to Allen about increasing the number of traffic stops.