ST. LOUIS COUNTY, MO (KPLR) – You may have received a fake speeding ticket in the mail, but you wouldn’t know it just by looking at it.
The police chief who signed it even said he thought it was a mock ticket. He signed it for a violation five towns over. That’s just the beginning of this bizarre new wave of security policing being pushed by a private company all around St. Louis County. “I know not to speed. I don’t speed,” said Tina Lucas.
She said the ticket simply cannot be right. Her ticket reads “Notice of Violation” and “Payment Due,” and says she owes $125. “These types of things are going on in these areas to just get your money,” Lucas said.
The ticket came from a laser radar operation in Uplands Park. The Fox Files in February exposed the security company behind it – Public Safety First Partners.
Our investigation has since discovered the security company has no contract in Uplands Park. Town Chairman B.W. Shelton said he only discovered the company was sending real tickets after our report. Shelton said he thought it was just a warning system. But real tickets went out.
So who runs the show?
“Well, as far as the security company, they run their own show,” Shelton said.
John Baine, who runs Public Safety First Partners, was at city hall to hear our interview with Chairman Shelton. He said he didn't want to be interviewed, but became agitated while watching and joined our conversation.
“If you don’t take care of all these minor enforcement things because you’re afraid of public perception, things start to fall apart,” Baine said.
St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar called the speed operation “unethical, immoral" and said it “oughta be illegal.”
Baine addressed Chief Belmar’s comments.
“He’s trying to protect—and you know this, Chris—he’s trying to protect the ability for the county to take over these different areas, because they want the small cities gone,” he said.
Chairman Shelton said he's suspended the program and will refund anyone who paid, but those payments don't go to the Uplands Park. Follow the bizarre paper trail and you'll see.
The ticket instructs you to mail your money to the City of Kinloch Municipal Court through a P.O. Box in Maryland Heights. Even more bizarre, this ticket was signed by Col. Clifton Ware, the police chief in Moline Acres. After two visits and two phone calls, Chief Ware declined to talk on camera. By phone he said he was signing “mock tickets” and that there’s nothing wrong with him signing something documented by private security operating in a different town.
Meanwhile, Lucas got a letter from Uplands Park saying she's off the hook.
“Awesome! Prevailed, knowing that I didn’t just say that I'm going to pay this,” she said. Contact us if you received one of these speeding tickets. Many small towns insist this is about safety and the security company said this new strategy is a legal way around the ban on automated enforcement.