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Trivial ticket challenge goes unanswered

POSTED: May 8, 2012 7:58 p.m.

No one responded to Midway City Councilman Terry Doyle’s 30-day challenge to show evidence that a Midway Police officer had written anyone a ticket for speeding less than 5 miles per hour over the posted speed limit.

Doyle had extended his challenge for 30 days and lowered the bar further, challenging anyone to show proof he or she had been ticketed by a Midway Police officer for speeding less than 9 miles per hour over the limit. Still, no one called or came by the Midway Police Department to claim $50 in restaurant gift cards offered by Doyle as incentive to his challenge.

“This had nothing to do with the city,” Doyle said, who retired from the Air Force after 27 years and moved to Midway. “I saw where people were saying things in the Courier’s Sound off that just weren’t true. The things they said suggested Midway was developing a reputation like Ludowici (once had). Quite frankly, it got my Irish up.”

Doyle said he wasn’t trying to establish a threshold at which Midway police officers would issue tickets, but rather to prove that its officers were not issuing tickets frivolously or establishing speed traps.

“I’ve been working with Chief (Kelli) Morningstar for years, and I knew the accusations made in the Sound off were not true,” he said. “I wanted to do something to prove it. I’m not a rich man, so I had to think what I could offer with a challenge. I bought two $25 restaurant gift cards, which I never expected to get back. They were locked in a box by (police department clerk) Donna Davis two months ago. Since there have been no takers for the challenge, I felt like it was only right to hold a drawing for the officers to get the cards.”

Doyle said he believed many of the Sound off complaints were embellished by the callers, like the way people brag at a party or among close friends. A speeding ticket for driving 20 miles per hour over the speed limit becomes 15, then 10, then 5.

Morningstar agreed, suggesting the reported tickets had grown out of proportion over time, like a fishing story. Instead of a fish that grows bigger over time, she felt Sound off’s complainers were guilty of lowering the speed for which they’d gotten tickets — if they even got a speeding ticket.

“We get a bad enough reputation just being law enforcement,” Morningstar said. “We have had some problems with people calling into Sound off, making accusations that aren’t true but not having to prove what they’re saying. It’s not fair for us or any other law enforcement agency to get raked over the coals.”

Suggesting the unsubstantiated claims made in Sound off made her department “guilty by accusation,” Morningstar said she’d like an opportunity to respond to Sound off claims that questioned the integrity of her department in the same paper right next to the claim.

Because no one accepted Doyle’s ticket challenge, the names of the department’s six officers were placed in a patrolman’s hat by Davis. She held the hat well above her head as Doyle reached inside to draw a name. The first name drawn was Morningstar’s. The second went to Officer Mark Rich.

“A lot of the things they do in this department, people don’t know about,” said Doyle, who added he supports Midway’s police, noting that four of its six officers are military veterans. “They don’t even want me to talk about it, because recognition is not why they do it. My own military service taught me what makes an organization work well. I know good management and loyalty. We have both those (qualities) in our police department.”

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