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Tuesday, September 17, 2013

"Coles Cocked" -- Speed Traps and Doing 25 MPH in Portsmouth, Ohio

I have lived on Brant Avenue in Portsmouth, Ohio, for over 33 years. As a driver, I get into my car and travel up and down Coles Boulevard most every day. The neighborhood and the streets in my community are like old friends. I know them well, and I try to respect the safety of the residents who live there.

Yesterday, I received the first speeding ticket I have ever been issued on Coles. A Portsmouth police officer was parked in the armory with a laser speed gun, and he clocked me at 38 MPH in the 25 MPH zone. He told me that the police department had recently received a grant and that the money acquired was dedicated to slowing down speeding motorists like me.

I do not like speed traps. I hear you chuckling and responding with "Just take your punishment, you guilty old goat." And, from you, I accept the just rebuttal. I am a guilty man ... a disgusted, bothered guilty offender. Yet, I still feel I have been fleeced by the Portsmouth Police Department.

Speed traps are used by municipalities as a method of generating revenue to run the government. "Safety" is often given as an excuse to run speed traps, but the real reason is "money."

* The police department wants more money for equipment and salaries.
* The city wants more money to avoid raising taxes.
* Local residents and businesses go along with speed traps because they reduce local taxes, and they are usually not the drivers who get the tickets anyway.

For me, getting a ticket generated by a speed trap on Coles was extremely upsetting. Call me a criminal without a good conscience, but I attempt to be a law-abiding citizen active in local causes that benefit local needs.

I guess getting a ticket helped erode my trust that law enforcement officers were considering priorities and working with my tax dollars to eliminate more violent crimes like drug abuse, theft, rape, and murder.

According to Neighborhood Scout, featuring online enterprise-grade data for every neighborhood and city in the U.S., crime rates are high in my neighborhood. Here are some examples:

Neighborhood Crime Data 

Violent Crime Comparison per 1,000 residents

National Median 3.9
My chances of becoming a victim 
in Portsmouth 1 in 237
in Ohio 1 in 325

Property Crime Rate Comparison per 1,000 residents
National Median 29.1
My chances of becoming a victim
in Portsmouth 1 in 18
in Ohio 1 in 30

Crimes Per Square Mile

National Median 39.6

in Portsmouth 110
in Ohio 41

Neighborhood Scout Online:

Here is another online report generated by, a site that specializes finding the best places to live in the United States.

"The city violent crime rate for Portsmouth in 2010 was higher than the national violent crime rate average by 43.11% and the city property crime rate in Portsmouth was higher than the national property crime rate average by 292.72%.

"In 2010 the city violent crime rate in Portsmouth was higher than the violent crime rate in Ohio  by 83.25% and the city property crime rate in Portsmouth was higher than the property crime rate in Ohio by 256.01%."

CityRating Online:

I write my own feelings to satisfy my need to communicate. In this blog, I have complained in the past about the lack of cooperation between citizens and the police in Portsmouth. Topics have included drug arrests, missing persons and internal corruption in a "Good Old Boy" society. At the same time, I know many Portsmouth Police officers and I believe they are good, dedicated cops.

If changes need to be made and new priorities need to be established to correct the dismal crime statistics in Portsmouth, then the local government must step up and commit to better protection. Evidently, the need to set speed traps and issue tickets on Coles Boulevard exists. I believe this money grabbing is not a top priority. And, I confess to my prejudice and "sour grapes" attitude.

Still, 45 employees of the police department can work harder to combat serious crime. I am beginning to feel that the department needs a serious shakeup. I know the job these people are asked to perform is tough and dangerous, yet so many in our community distrust the law. Reform must begin at the top. Setting speed traps that serve to pile up tickets at City Hall is one approach. I happen to see another.

But, I can assure you that I have learned my lesson. Every day you may see my white '93 Cadillac traveling Coles Boulevard at a maximum speed of 20-25 MPH. I can neither afford another speeding ticket or risk acquiring more points on my license. Hell, my speed control won't even let me set the barrier for 25 MPH, so I better slow it to 20 in the city just to be safe.

Just remember, when you get on my bumper and shout obscenities as an aggravated traveler who wants to "blow away" an old fuddy-duddy, one of those "idiots" who won't get out of the way, consider that I have lived here for decades, but now I am a reformed, law-abiding driver thanks to the Portsmouth Police Department. Stay behind me a safe distance and practice patience because I am right and you are so wrong. You will arrive at your destination. You may get there late, but you will get there "steaming mad" and alive.

For those of you who continue to drive over 25 MPH on city streets, beware. Portsmouth is cracking down on you reckless operators. You will be arrested for your dangerous criminal activity. After all, the city needs to do something to improve the horrible crime statistics and encourage good folks to move here. This is the "something" they choose.

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