MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — On average, nearly 120,000 people are ticketed for speeding in the seven-county metro area each year. We spent months crunching the numbers and discovered your chance of getting caught varies greatly from city to city.
First, we took a ride with State Trooper Robert O’Fallon. For four years, his laser has been locked on west metro roads and he’s always caught something.
“I write anywhere from 3 to 10 speeding tickets a day,” O’Fallon said.
It’s a mistake that costs at least $120 in Minnesota. In one year, troopers alone wrote nearly 20,000 speeding tickets in the metro.
While the State Patrol is considered the experts in traffic safety in Minnesota, we found, per person the agency isn’t writing nearly as many tickets as dozens of other police departments.
For weeks, we collected all of the Twin Cities speeding citations written in 2011: 85 departments, more than 118,000 tickets.
Edina Police wrote 8,700 speeding tickets, making it No. 1. When it’s averaged per person, Edina wrote five times more than St. Paul and 12 times more than Minneapolis, the two biggest cities in the state.
Jeff Long is the chief of police in Edina.
“I am proud of that because that means our officers are actually out doing what they’re supposed to be doing,” he said.
Edina’s makeup plays a big role in its rank on our list. Three major highways: 169, 62, and Highway 100 run right through it. In all, officers keep an eye on 230 miles.
The average ticket is issued at 15 miles an hour over the posted speed.
“There’s a misconception we’re stopping people for these minor traffic infractions and we’re not,” Chief Long said.
Twenty miles to the north, we found Spring Lake Park coming in close behind, taking the second spot on our list. It wrote eight times the amount of tickets per person than cities 10 times its size.
Again three major highways make up the majority of the roads in this two and a half square mile city. The department believes stepped-up speed enforcement keeps its 100,000 daily commuters safe.
Douglas Ebeltoft is the police chief in Spring Lake Park.
“Do we like to do it. No? But it’s something that’s required of us to do,” Chief Ebeltoft said.
The cities of Wayzata, Jordan and Medina round out the top five on our list.
We asked the Minnesota Chiefs of Police Association to take a look at what we found. Dave Pecchia is the executive director.
“Historically, they’ve been very aggressive in traffic enforcement and that’s reflected in the numbers,” he said.
He believes it comes down to department priorities. Speed, simply isn’t treated the same if there are more important things for police to worry about.
Go over the posted speed and it’s up to each department to decide what to do. There are no state standards and police departments don’t set quotas. That’s illegal in Minnesota. When departments do issue tickets, those cities don’t make much money, only about $10 to $20. Most of the money goes to the state and county.
“It’s a loser money-wise. If I could get rid of it I would but I can’t,” Edina Police Chief Jeff Long said.
Can’t get rid of it because Edina’s police chief believes it’s working. Statistics show his city has some of Minnesota’s safest roads. So he doesn’t mind topping our list and sending the message to slow down.
Katie O’Hara found out the hard way.
“Edina is actually the only place I’ve ever gotten a speeding ticket,” she said.
“Drive the speed limit. That’s all we ask,” Chief Long said.
Click here to see our database.
If you’d like to see how your city ranks in our list, click on this interactive map.
Just click on your town and you’ll see where it falls, how many tickets that agency wrote and the top three locations in that town where police are looking for speeders.