Crooked cops in Connecticut

Weston, Connecticut has a dirty police chief. Not the kind you see in Hollywood thrillers with drugs and dark alleys. His addiction is one of everyday life.

He’s addicted to his illegal speed trap on Old Mill Road.

It’s lined with 15 mph signs. A resident of a nearby town told me, “I have always thought it was not a legal speed limit.” He was right.

Old Mill Road is the shortest route between point A and point B. That describes thousands of roads, except this one has residents who complain about “speeders” (nonresidents) more than most.

Like you need a prescription to possess opiates, in Connecticut you need a prescription to post speed limit signs. And for much the same reason, because of the potential for addiction.

The prescription — “speed limit certificate” — says 25, the signs say 15. I found the apparent mistake a few months ago and got in touch with the person whose job was to fix it.

Like many small towns, Weston puts the police chief in charge of traffic signs. Under state law, one duty of the “local traffic authority” is removing illegal signs.

So he should have said “oops” and fixed the signs. Except it wasn’t a mistake. It was an intentional violation of law. Town policy is to post 15 in a 25 zone. And, he told me, it’s OK to ticket anybody going over 25 no matter what the signs say.

Except that’s not what the law says. In Connecticut the speed limit is 55 except where legally posted lower. Where illegally posted lower, it’s 55.

Beyond the general principle “ignorance of the law is no excuse”, if you’re responsible for traffic enforcement you should know traffic law.

If any civil rights lawyers or prosecuting attorneys are reading this, I suggest reviewing traffic court dockets to see if anybody got a ticket for a speed under 55. Police are supposed to be aggressive. Maybe he’s just bluffing. I don’t know anybody who got a ticket.

When the 15 mph signs didn’t work, the town escalated to illegal stop signs, a four way stop at a private driveway. The signs are not at an intersection (as required by state law). They are not based on an engineering study but on a desire to slow traffic. For the record, the chief denied to me that they were for speed control, but he admitted elsewhere that they were. And he did discuss signs with an engineer, which is not the same as having a sealed engineering study.

As I said before, sometimes you get the leadership you deserve. I don’t doubt town residents want a private road at public expense, and obedience to the law would upset them.

What’s supposed to happen here is responsible adults come along and take away the town’s toys. That would be Connecticut DOT, which is aware of the illegal acts.

Contacted for this story, Connecticut DOT had no comment. The chief said, “this person doesn’t even live in town.”

The opinions expressed in this post belong to the author and do not necessarily represent those of the National Motorists Association or the NMA Foundation. This content is for informational purposes and is not intended as legal advice. No representations are made regarding the accuracy of this post or the included links.

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