I am writing about a recent letter from Bonnie Mansfield. In her letter, she expressed concern about how Buckeye Lake Village’s monthly haul from speeding fines ($17,000) compared to Hebron ($3,400 per month) or Kirkersville ($7,600 per month). She indicated that part of the problem may be that some of the Village speed limits may not be legal.
I am writing to inform you that the discrepancies may be far more devious than that. Based on my limited experience I believe that a thorough review of the Mayor’s Court records for those dates will reveal that up to $13,000 of those fines were written by one part time officer, Mr. Jim Bartoe.
I had occasion to meet Officer Bartoe on March 31, 2014, when I drove through Buckeye Lake, enroute from Millersport to Newark, We went through the Village because Canal Road was closed at that time. As we neared the Village line I was quite irritated because the traffic ahead of me slowed to a crawl. More like a school zone that a city limit.
Shortly after crossing the Village line a loud siren erupted right on my bumper. Believing this an emergency I swerved to the right as far as I could, as did the vehicle in front of me. Officer Bartoe walked up to my window and informed me that I was driving 49 MPH which I knew was definitely false.
At Mayor’s Court on April 15, 2014, I pled Not Guilty. On May 6, 2014 I was found guilty in the Mayor’s Court. I appealed that conviction to Licking County Municipal Court where my citation was dismissed. I would have been defrauded of well over $100 if I had not had a credible and observant witness as to where Officer Bartoe was parked with his magic radar. The witness was my wife, who humorously believed that a police officer had found a out of the way place to take a nap.
In preparing for my trial, I purchased records for Mayor’s Court on the two days I was there. I learned that Officer Bartoe, a part time officer, wrote over 80% of the citations out of a police force of 15 officers. In addition he accounted for over 80% of the fines collected.
During trial, Officer Bartoe admitted that his radar would not work from where he was actually parked but falsely stated that he was parked down on the road. When I suggested that as a part time officer, he was paid a percent of the fines he collected, he testified that he worked for no pay but only a small uniform allowance. He was not believed.
My main concern is for all those young individuals who are fined by this same officer who feel helpless to fight against Officer Bartoe and his magic radar.
I believe if you attend just one of the Mayor’s Court sessions you will observe why I am concerned about disillusioned young people. There is a loss of confidence in our judicial system and it begins with similar circumstances like I experienced.
John E. Wilson