Byrnes Mill – JeffCo’s Ferguson

15 Mar

Amidst the release of the Justice Department’s report on policing in Ferguson, many have made the point that Ferguson is not much different that many surrounding communities. While most such comparisons are made exclusively with other St. Louis County municipalities, I maintain that we have our own Ferguson right here in Jefferson County – Byrnes Mill. Let’s review:

    • Ferguson was pulling in about 21-23% of its revenue from court fines. Byrnes Mill has brought in 26-37% of its revenue over the past three years from tickets, according to city budgets (though it went down from 2013 to 2014). Byrnes Mill will have some issues if the bill to cap traffic fine revenue at 10% of total city revenue passes the legislature (it already passed the Senate). Note: the percentages above include both traffic and non-traffic tickets. The latter wouldn’t count towards the 10% cap.
    • The DOJ report mentioned that Ferguson’s fines for individual offenses were generally higher than those of its neighbors (page 10). Similarly, Byrnes Mill’s fines are generally higher than those of other JeffCo cities. In a sampling of 18 offenses, Byrnes Mill had the highest fine in the county for eight of them and the 2nd-highest for four of them (Note: I am missing data for two courts).
    • Several Ferguson officials, including the judge, mayor, court clerk, and several patrol supervisors, got tickets taken care of for themselves or others. A lawsuit against Byrnes Mill by former interim chief Mike Smith claims that city administrator Larry Perney fixed one or more traffic citations and directed officers not to ticket one or more (specific) individuals.
    • The Ferguson report lists a number of violations of Constitutional rights by Ferguson officers (starting on page 16). Byrnes Mill was sued several times for similar violations under former chief Ed Locke, including unlawful arrest, unlawful seizure (towing cars unnecessarily), and 1st Amendment retaliation.
    • I reported here that Byrnes Mill filed 1.8 municipal court cases per resident age 16+ in FY 2013, the most in the county by far. According to data submitted to the state, Ferguson filed 1.5 cases per resident age 16+ that year (population figures are from the 2010 census).
    • The main focus of the Ferguson report is race, of course. I could compare Byrnes Mill to Ferguson in this regard, but Byrnes Mill is 97% white, and the police there only stopped 18 black drivers in 2013, according to data send to the state attorney general (page 139). So I’m not sure such a comparison would be valid.
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6 Responses to “Byrnes Mill – JeffCo’s Ferguson”

  1. shortstop March 16, 2015 at 3:40 pm #

    Stops alone are not indicative of ‘racial profiling’. There is more data in the AGs report if you look closely. For instance: Byrnes Mill officers stopped 17 blacks in 2010 and issued 17 tickets- no warnings. In 2011 they stopped 27 blacks issued 27 tickets- no warnings. In 2012 they must have got the message, 48 blacks stopped 29 tickets-19 warnings. IN 2013 they stopped 18 blacks, 16 tickets and 2 warnings. That’s 110 stops of blacks in 4 years, 89 citations and 21 warnings ( almost all the warnings in 1 year). 81% of the time that a black driver gets stopped they will get a ticket. While this in itself does not ‘prove’ racial profiling it sure provides for more questions of the city leaders.

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    • JC Penknife March 16, 2015 at 8:49 pm #

      I noticed that 16/18 number in 2013. Overall, during those 4 years, whites got ticketed 74% of the time in 7,861 stops, so the difference is there, but is not huge. I don’t know if the black sample size is enough to be statistically valid, but you do make a good point.

      Also interesting is how stops spiked in 2011-2012. Number of total stops per year by BM police was:
      2010 – 1,466
      2011 – 2,324
      2012 – 2,811
      2013 – 1,430

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  2. Grumpy March 18, 2015 at 3:59 am #

    The Byrnes Mill police department is doing what the city administration instructs them to do, I.E., what their duties are for that day. Don’t blame the police, change the administration.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Anonymous March 20, 2015 at 8:39 am #

      I guess one should not blame the Nazis as they were just following orders too.

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  3. Anonymous March 21, 2015 at 2:23 pm #

    I totally agree with Grumpy. That’s what’s been advocated all along…change the administration!

    Liked by 1 person

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  1. Byrnes Mill Fighting to Keep Ticket Money | Jefferson County Penknife - March 27, 2015

    […] in which the city trots out city attorney Bob Sweeney to make its case. (To continue with my “JeffCo’s Ferguson” theme, Sweeney is to city attorneys what Ronald Brockmeyer was to municipal judges). Why use […]

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