2/21/2009Louisiana: Federally Funded Speed Trap Busted for Corruption
Waterproof, Louisiana mayor and police chief arrested for corruption. The pair received federal grants to create speed traps.
The mayor and police chief of a federally funded Louisiana speed trap town were arrested Wednesday on felony corruption charges. A Tensas Parish Grand Jury indicted Waterproof Mayor Bobby Higginbotham for felony theft, malfeasance in office, payroll fraud and using public funds for personal use. Waterproof Police Chief Miles Jenkins faces three felony counts for receiving bonuses for meeting traffic ticket quotas and altering traffic citations. The activities of both officials were fueled by federal taxpayer dollars.
In 2007, Higginbotham received $37,500 from the US Department of Agriculture Rural Development's Community Facilities Program for the purchase of two police cars fully equipped with the latest speed detection equipment. Higginbotham ordered Miles to use these vehicles to prey on State Highway 65 travelers as the speed limit dropped without warning to 45 MPH within the town limits.
"They have the nicest police cars in Louisiana," one commenter on the National Motorists Association Speed Trap Exchange website observed. "However they are the most unprofessionally dressed cops I've ever seen."
Even before the arrival of the new cruisers, Waterproof earned 37 percent of its budget from speeding tickets, according to a 2007 report by the Louisiana Legislative Auditor. Higginbotham and Jenkins are out on bond awaiting trial. Louisiana State Police officials say the investigation into their activities is ongoing.