USA: Police State

Virginia Troopers Become Tax Collectors for a Weekend

by Michelle Krebs, Edmunds

The state of Virginia turned to a baldfaced fleecing of motorists this past weekend as a part of a solution to chip away at the state’s $2.2-billion budget deficit.

The, via the, reported the shameful results of Virginia’s weekend revenue-pumping ticket blitz that flew under cover of a safety campaign: the state’s “Operation Air, Land & Speed, dealt out an astonishing 7,016 traffic tickets this past Saturday and Sunday.

Overtime for the state troopers engaged in the 48-hour turkey shoot was paid via a federal grant, meaning tax dollars helped fund Virginia’s budget-balancing con.

If the 3,536 speeding citations aren’t enough proof of the bizarre charade speed limits have become all over the nation, Virginia took the swindle a step further: troopers issued 717 citations for reckless driving, a “judgment call” ticket that can be handed out for speeding as little as 10 or 15 miles per hour over the speed limit – and one that can come with a fine of as much as $2,500.

Apparently unable to fathom the irony of what issuing 3,536 speeding tickets in two days must say about speed limits, Colonel W. Steven Flaherty, Virginia State Police superintendent, said in a statement, “It is discouraging to see so many motorists on our interstates putting themselves and others at risk by failing to comply with speed limits, to buckle up, and to drive sober.”

The state police superintendent makes no attempt to connect the alleged chaos caused by speeding to the nation’s near-perpetual downward spiral in road fatalities – or Virginia’s own 20-percent drop in fatalities just this year.

Nobody seems to want to calculate just how much Operation Air, Land & Speed helped Virginia in its quest to balance its budget, yet even with the massive number of tickets issued, the figure isn’t going to be much help in filling a $2.2-billion shortfall. But motorists whose own federal tax dollars helped finance Virginia’s latest ticket-writing ripoff – the state boasts of the 120,000 tickets 23 such operations have yielded since 2006 –  will be paying the cost of Virginia’s punitive enforcement many times over.

Nor are any figures available on how many of the drivers ticketed this weekend have signed on to be fans of the Virginia State Police on the department’s new Facebook page, launched March 1. – Bill Visnic, Senior Editor

Photo by Virginia State Police