Lehi Police Deny Tickets on I-15 Are For Revenue

Lehi Police Deny Tickets on I-15 Are For Revenue

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LEHI, Utah (AP) -- The radar speed traps operated on Interstate 15 by Lehi police are aimed at reducing fatalities, not boosting the department's revenue, Police Chief Chad Smith says.

"With UHP lacking manpower, we're usually first on the scene," he said. "Invariably we get people driving at 100 miles per hour. ... We're just trying to slow them down for that reason."

Smith said Lehi has also gotten aggressive in recent years because of freeway fatalities caused by excessive speeds.

He also complained about the increased traffic on city streets when a major accident on I-15 between Lehi and the Point of the Mountain closes some or all freeway lanes.

"If you saw how many vehicles pass on I-15 in an hour -- that's how many are on our streets," when there's a freeway accident, he said.

During fiscal 2004, Lehi collected $409,394 in fines from traffic citations. Ron Foggin, city finance director, said it was not possible to say how much of that was from tickets issued on I-16.

Smith said, "It takes a $3 million budget to run this department, so what we're doing (on I-15) isn't going to make a dent in that."

The Pleasant Grove Police Department, which serves both Pleasant Grove and Lindon and does not patrol I-15, took in $227,146 in fiscal 2004. Pleasant Grove police serve more than 38,000 residents, while Lehi's force serves 30,000.

"We keep our guys in town," Pleasant Grove police Capt. Cody Cullimore said.

American Fork police Capt. Steve Cornia agrees.

"When we're running radar on the freeway, we're not taking care of our own business," Cornia said. "It's highway patrol's responsibility ... We're stretched."

Smith said Lehi's situation may make it unique among Utah County communities.

"If you look where American Fork, Pleasant Grove, Orem, Provo and Spanish Fork lay, the freeway goes outside," Smith said. "We're split down the middle."

UHP Lt. Ken Peay said UHP doesn't mind the enforcement assistance from Lehi police.

He said there usually is only one UHP trooper patrolling I-15 in the north area of the county.

"There's too few of us to keep the speeds down," he said. "If you travel southbound past Point of the Mountain lately, you can see the speeds are fairly high."

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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