State Shutting Down Speed Zone

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01-29-07 City Leaders are facing possibly eliminating the police department after Stringtown was declared a speed trap by state authorities. Residents are now concerned about the safety of their community.

Last year Stringtown made more than 400,000 dollars in speeding tickets, 80 percent of the town's revenue. Now the state is putting the brakes city police enforcing the speed limit in that area.

Highway 69 is a busy stretch of highway between Atoka and McAlester thought Stringtown. It has a speed limit of 60 miles an hour and troopers are calling it a speed trap.

"Too much of the traffic was going to city government," said Tony Benson, mayor of Stringtown.

City officials received a letter saying OHP will enforce the speed limit on the highway, not police. With six officers writing tickets for the bulk of city revenue. Now they will have much less work to do.

"If they're not able to work then they'll be the first ones to go basically," Benson said.

In a heated meeting Monday afternoon, city leaders said their only option would be to layoff officers, maybe even eliminated the entire department.

Some say this isn't in the best interest of the community.

"We have 198 children here and about 1000 residents," said Gail Enochs, a Springtown resident. "We really need that 24 hour coverage and we can't do that now as much as we can and I hope the city council continues to vote to keep our people."

Now police officers are left wondering how they will serve the community if there's not enough money to pay their salaries.

"I just hope we can come up with enough police officers to protect the welfare of our citizens," said Ron Marley, Chief of Police.

City officials tabled the staffing issues until the council meeting February 6. They will also present a plan to the state department of public safety. The plan must show how they will use a police force for public safety, more than generating ticket revenue for the city.