Checkpoints Part III

7 Nov

After being tabled and then rejected, the Jefferson County sheriff’s checkpoint grant was back on the county council agenda last week. This time, the grant was tabled again, until December. In the meantime, the council will consider an ordinance to ban safety/compliance checkpoints. This would in theory allow the council to approve the state grant, although councilman Kelly Waymon stated in the Leader that the ordinance won’t be approved by the time the grant comes up again for consideration.

At the meeting, a strong citizen contingent turned out to speak against the checkpoints. In addition, County Executive Ken Waller read a statement supporting the grant (starting at 13:30 in the video here). He emphasized more than once that it is his job to set the agenda, he suggested council members have their own agendas, and he insisted he is against seat belt checkpoints but for DWI checkpoints. Sheriff Glenn Boyer (1:35:30) spoke as well, listing statistics about county traffic accidents and infractions (it should be noted, when he lists the county’s ranking for various statistics, that Jefferson is the state’s 7th largest by population, including St. Louis city, so you would expect us to be at least near the top of these rankings). He accused the council of cutting his budget and again waved the bloody shirts of the two deputies who were recently wounded, and accused the council of not caring about them since nobody called him about it.

During the vote to table the bill, several council members responded to the Sheriff, who had left the room at this point. Bob Boyer (at 1:41:50 in the video) said he was appalled the sheriff says the council doesn’t care, and that the shooting shouldn’t be used as an argument for this checkpoint grant. Renee Reuter said (1:47:00) she talked to others at the department and was appalled at his claim. She also pointed out that in the past, when she took a complaint to the sheriff, he wrote a letter to the whole council calling her an “instigator” (her term). George Engelbach (1:48:40) also stated that he called others about the shooting.

Terri Kreitler (1:49:15) said she is against DUIs but for the Constitution, and thinks you will find few drunks on the road between 7 am and 4 pm. Kelly Waymon (1:51:00) said he was offended by the sheriff’s insults, and that he wouldn’t call someone in a situation like the shooting that requires the person’s full attention. He complimented the county’s deputies, and declared that to say the council cut the sheriff’s department is unbelievable. He mentioned the newly opened wing of the jail, $800,000 for new vehicles, and 8-10 new department employees as evidence of this. It was good to hear the council not backing down.

As an aside, at 1:57:00 in the video, councilman Cliff Lane, who voted for the grant last time, remarked to Waller “well, we have to do this again in December.” To which Waller replied in a bitter tone, “not our fault.”

Now that we have two declared GOP candidates for sheriff in 2016, both current employees (Dave Marshak and now Ron Arnhart), one wonders if these checkpoints will be an issue in the election, or at least the primary. It would be hard, though, for these candidates to criticize their boss, considering that they will be working for him throughout the campaign (although he went ahead and endorsed the Democratic candidate, undersheriff Steve Meinberg). Plus, I don’t know what percentage of voters would say “if you don’t like the checkpoints, don’t break the law” or “what if your family member was killed by a drunk?” and are thus fine with checkpoints, compliance or otherwise. But maybe the ordinance banning compliance checkpoints will take this issue off the table.

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3 Responses to “Checkpoints Part III”

  1. Jeffrey Roorda November 7, 2013 at 3:06 pm #

    Hey, even though you’ve been beating me up lately in your column, I still enjoy reading it.  It’s good for me to know what other folks think of important public issues.  I know that you follow Traffic Cameras closely so I wanted to make sure that you saw the decision that Judge Oldenwald (who I like even though he is a Republican–see, I’m not that partisan) authored in Edwards v. Ellisville.  You can read it here: http://www.courts.mo.gov/file.jsp?id=67236   Thanks, Jeff

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    • JC Penknife November 7, 2013 at 7:28 pm #

      I did see that, thanks. Any chance the legislature will act on RLC’s?

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      • wrongonred November 8, 2013 at 12:16 am #

        Lembke thinks so, however, I am pretty sure ATS has now pulled the trigger on the “Tennessee Strategy” which is where they get a friendly legislator to introduce a bill called the Motorist Protection Act or something to that effect, and within the Act, use it to prevent the application of points and basically carve out Red Light Camera violations as some special “non-moving” violation. They are not going to go for a statute which authorizes them, rather, they will chip away at the 3 statutes which the Eastern District said the ordinances conflict with. Thankfully, there are men willing to stand in the breech to ensure that no such legislation sees the light of day (or so they say at the moment).

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