Turbeville, SC Police Department: The “Conscience Shockers”

Philip Melton shared this post via CopBlock.org’s submit page. Source: www.WisTV.com.

Finally, after years of complaints aimed at the Turbeville, South Carolina Police Department from honest people simply trying to save time and gas to transport goods through a small town, and being fined by the Boss Hog “Mini-Me” waiting behind Speed Limit change signs, people are taking notice. We utilize a roadway that is convenient from the rest of South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida to Myrtle Beach to work, trade and live. This road unfortunately became a cash cow to a hick town with an interim police chief, city council, and mayor. (Think castles, tariffs, and mountain passes in European medieval times.)

Under Turbeville’s “Speeding Ordinance,” the town can charge speeders a fine of up to $500 for driving faster than 10 miles above the posted limit. The speeding ticket Turbeville officers issue on scene has a “Recommended Bond” of $388 and is usually the fine a driver pays to plead guilty to the violation. The $388 is double the amount that most towns charge for the same violation and not in accordance with State Regulations.

The South Carolina uniform traffic code requires all towns to follow the fine structure the legislature implemented under title 56-5-1520; the section that spells out a driver’s punishment for breaking the state’s speed limits. The South Carolina Highway Patrol in determining maximum speeding fines uses the following scale:

-Under 10 miles an hour: $25 plus assessments
-10 to 15 miles an hour: $50 plus assessments
-15 to 25 miles an hour: $75 plus assessments
-25 and up: $200 plus assessments

Our local news did an investigation and that is when I originally requested that Cop Block intervene to help protect the wallets of unsuspecting businesses that traverse this town. They interviewed Turbeville Police Chief David Jones on September 11, 2013 one week after watching him issue $288 and $388 town speeding tickets to drivers making their way to Interstate 95 from Myrtle Beach. Jones defended his town’s speeding fines, which are among the highest in the state.

Jones told WIS that the fines were meant to “shock the conscience” of drivers who speed through Turbeville. The problem with that logic is the vast majority of the drivers the department tickets do not live anywhere near Turbeville, and may only pass through the town once a year.

Turbeville Mayor Dwayne Howell was supposed to take part in the September 11 interview, but did not attend. Jones said Howell had “a prior obligation” and did not realize it when he initially agreed to talk with the news about his town’s speeding ordinance. They aired the first investigative series without hearing from the mayor, but this time they took additional measures to get him on the record.

“We (WISTV) called Howell’s home and left a message with his wife. Howell never returned our call. The following day we placed a second call to Howell’s home and left a second message on his answering machine. That call was never returned. On September 25, we went to Turbeville Town Hall and found Howell in his office.”

“Howell made it clear from the start that he wasn’t on council when the speeding ordinance first went into effect in 2003. However, Howell acknowledged that he was aware of our investigation into his town’s punishment of speeders. “Any interest in changing that ordinance or just let it be?” Barr asked Howell. “Personally, whatever council wants to do is what we’ll do. I’m one of five because we’re a weak mayor here and I only vote to break a tie,” Howell explained.”

“How about you personally as mayor; if you had a tie breaking vote would you vote to end this ordinance,” Barr asked. “I’d probably vote to keep it the way it is,” Howell said. “

“We’re doing two things for us. (The Town of Turbeville) We are making this community a little bit safer, I think, I hope. And we are generating revenue for this town,” Howell told WIS. “If you lived here, you would see what we’re talking about and it does generate revenue for the community; there’s no question about that.”

Howell pointed out that a four-lane highway runs through the middle of Turbeville and poses a danger to the businesses and the people who live there. The state regulates the speed limit through town, which is 30 miles an hour through the business district, then increasing to 45 miles an hour before returning to 60 miles an hour just outside the town limits.

I have driven this “dangerous” 4-lane road through Turbeville. It has red lights and turn lanes (maintained by the state and my tax dollars) just like any other 4-lane road in America and is not at all dangerous. They do not prey on people driving recklessly during typical “rush hours” as the Mayor says. They stop people on weekends and early and late hours who begin to speed up when they see the speed limit change sign in the distance or they fail to slow down to the proper speed limit at the exact location of the reduced speed limit sign.

Cop Block should have their professionals intervene in this good old boy speed trap producing revenue for their paychecks, not for the good of the community as they say. I wish they would ask the town council for proof of where the money goes produced by these speed traps and how it is benefiting the little town of Turbeville.

[*Editor’s note: Cop Block is a decentralized project supported by a diverse group of individuals united by their shared goal of police accountability. If you believe police employees need to be held accountable, get involved! Ask questions. Speak out. -K]

My taxes pay for South Carolina roads every year when I pay my vehicle registration and the “road usage fee.” Their website states that they purchased their new Dodge Charger cars through a USDA loan.

http://www.townofturbeville.com/court.html

So, exactly where do the “Conscience Shocking” dollars go? Mmmm, yeah, it is obvious to everyone but the Law Enforcement personnel, city council, and the Mayor of Turbeville.

http://www.townofturbeville.com/council.html

Philip Melton

 

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