A Small Way To Curtail Policing For Profit
Policing for profit is the practice of using the tools of the judiciary (police, municipal courts, probation) to generate revenue for the municipality. It comes in the form of red-light cameras, speed cameras, license plate readers, speed traps, heavy police traffic enforcement, civil asset forfeitures, high fines and other revenue generating practices. The price of this hidden tax falls most heavily upon the poor who are more likely to find themselves unable to pay and subsequently jailed for minor offenses. It happens here in Ohio and has been addressed by the Ohio Supreme Court.
- In Ohio, more than 300 “mayor’s courts” presided over traffic cases in 2011. Often, the “principal objective is what’s in the cash register at the end of the evening,” said Ohio Supreme Court Senior Justice Paul Pfeifer.
The fight against policing for profit is a monumental problem in the United States and there are few bright spots in curtailing the practice. However, the Ohio House of Representatives is considering a bill that would make it legal to display only one license plate on the rear of a vehicle. Current law requires two plates to be displayed, but House Bill 159 would change that. This bill will be of interest to car enthusiasts and collectors and should make licensing a vehicle in Ohio a little more affordable. If passed, it may also help curtail revenue-based policing for profit ticketing schemes. HB 159 has been referred to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. We urge you to contact committee members and tell them what you think.