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Overland Park Refunds Thousands In Fines After Odd Police Traffic-Ticket Scheme

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Sam Zeff
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KCUR 89.3
Three Overland Park police officers resigned after a traffic-ticket scheme that Chief Frank Donchez called 'puzzling.'

Overland Park has dismissed 200 traffic tickets and refunded $4,000 in fines over an unusual traffic ticket scandal. As a result, three police officers resigned last week, according to Chief Frank Donchez.

What the officers did is a little hard to understand.

“They were writing seatbelt tickets instead of other tickets,” says Donchez.

So even if a driver was speeding or ran a red light, these three officers would just write a ticket for not wearing a seatbelt.

Why?

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Credit Sam Zeff / KCUR 89.3
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KCUR 89.3
Overland Park Police Chief Frank Donchez said he did not know why officers took part in the scheme.

“I don’t know the motivation behind it," Donchez says. "It is puzzling to say the least.”

Donchez says a fellow officer alerted commanders to the scheme. Investigators then checked dash-cam video and turned up evidence that suggests the officers probably knew they were doing something wrong. Most of the dash-cam video had no audio, meaning they turned off their microphones, says Donchez. 

“It’s very troubling because Overland Park Police Department policy is that your audio will remain on at all times when dealing with the public,” he says.

All three officers were working overtime paid for by a seatbelt enforcement grant from the Kansas Department of Transportion (they would, however, make the same in overtime pay no matter what kind of tickets they wrote).

All of this information was turned over to the Johnson County District Attorney.

“As far as I know there will be no criminal charges,” Donchez says.

A call to the district attorney's office was not immediately returned.

Sam Zeff is KCUR's Metro Reporter. You can follow Sam on Twitter @samzeff

You deserve to know what your taxpayer dollars are paying for and what public officials are doing on your behalf – I’ll work to report on irresponsible government spending in the Kansas City area and shed light on controversies that slow government down. And when you hear my voice in the morning, you know you’re getting everything you need to start your day. Email me at sam@kcur.org, find me on Twitter @samzeff or call me at 816-235-5004.
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