Town of Kiowa adds confusing new speed limit sign!
Kiowa is known for its speed trap which primarily revolves around the school zone. The school zone is active during the morning and afternoon Monday thru Thursday during the school year. When the school zone is in effect, the town speed limit drops from 35mph to 20mph. When entering the town from the east side on Hwy 86, the speed limit drops from 65 mph to 50mph to 35mph to 20mph in quick succession. The police typically set up their speed trap along the highway inside the school zone on either side of the street or they set up in the US Post Office parking lot on the east side of town with their radar guns. Rarely do the police set up on the west side of town as people are already slowed down as they approach the school zone from the west heading uphill into the school zone from that direction. Prior to entering the town from the west side the speed limit drops from 55mph to 50mph as drivers crest the hill and then plummet downhill into the town's 35mph speed zone. Either way you enter the town, from the east or west, you will be going downhill and have to slow down quickly with heavy braking to comply with the speed limit changes. Traffic tickets can run hundreds of dollars in fines and are no doubt used to fund the operation of the town court system as well as funding the operation of the police department. This can be debated from both sides of the fence and can't be proven either way. The town government says they(the police) are there to protect you.
I am not a lawyer and this is not legal advice so do you own due diligence regarding traffic stops & interacting with police!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3QOqNTR3glU censored youtube video
Over the years, I have heard numerous complaints. After all, nobody I know likes getting a speeding ticket so complaints are to be expected! Locals complain that speeding tickets are issued for 1-2mph over the school zone limit! This may be within the letter of the law but is definitely testing the 'spirit' of the law which is supposedly all about public safety. My experience has been that 90% of the time there are no children on the sidewalks or trying to cross the street during school zone hours. If it is that dangerous, why don't the parents of the school children accompany their children to and from the school? Certainly the same school children can be crossing the streets outside of those hours. Why can't the school get parents to act as crossing monitors during school hours to ensure the safety of their own children? Too busy maybe?
One driver reports that during one of these school zone speeding stops the Chief of Police, Sam Swofford, asked certain questions that raise privacy and constitutional concerns. In addition to presenting 'papers' like driver's license, vehicle registration and proof of vehicle insurance, the driver was asked where he/she was going? According to criminal lawyers this question does not have to be answered and probably shouldn't if you don't want to be asked other personal and private questions like what you had for your last meal and what your favorite form of entertainment is. During the same stop for 'speeding', the driver was also asked "Do you have any guns or knives in your car?" Further scolding was meted out by the chief about not texting on a cell phone and driving as it is against the law! Thanks chief!
Another town citizen complains that he was treated rudely by one of the town policemen for a supposed traffic violation which involved making a right turn without signaling due to a faulty turn signal. The citizen says he used a hand signal while turning. The officer then demanded a drivers license in the driver's driveway in spite of having known the driver as a long time town resident! Papers please pilgrim, its the law!
Dash cameras are a great and inexpensive insurance policy that anyone who drives a car can afford. Cameras can protect against insurance fraud as well as recording any contact with police during traffic stops which may be used for your own defense. Good ones can be had for around $50 that record in high definition. This link can give you some options: DashCamTalk
Filming police is not illegal unless it interferes with them performing their duty. Personal cameras can be used to record them despite their protestations if used from inside your car during a traffic stop, on public sidewalks, in public places, etc. The police are recording you while they are on duty! They have dash cameras as well as recording devices on their bodies while on the job. Colorado is a one party consent state for recording conversations.
Both the Kiowa Chief of Police Sam Swofford and Town Administrator Michelle Oeser refused to answer any questions about the conduct of traffic stops by the town police. The town administrator said that the police are there "to provide law enforcement" and that the town would not respond to any of my questions! According to Michelle Oeser, the Town of Kiowa has better things to do with their time than respond to citizens who might question how some of their employees conduct town business!
Why should citizens be concerned about this type of behavior by their police? It is a nationwide trend for decades of an increasing police-state mentality by police at all levels of our society and it leads to a NAZI style of militaristic government. We should all be keen to protect our freedoms and liberty from encroachment no matter where it comes from! Answering questions by police during a 'routine' stop is an individual choice but keep in mind that police aren't pulling you over to discuss the weather or the latest Bronco's football game. They are on 'official' business and consider you a criminal who must be dealt with appropriately. They are coming to your vehicle after stopping you wearing body armor, a large caliber open-carry handgun, handcuffs, audio and video recording equipment to record everything you do and say, communication equipment to call out the national guard if necessary and a sometime imperious demeanor. They are loaded for bear so to speak. Perhaps some police rely on their intimidation factor to ask you questions which are really none of their business like 'where are you going'? The only questions you have to answer from police are your name, address and date of birth. Once you begin answering any other questions you open the door for more and have reinforced the police mentality that they can ask just about anything they want to ask you. To be sure, refusing to answer police questions won't endear you to them and could have an influence on whether or not you get a ticket. Be polite, but realize that answers to questions can and will be used against you by the 'authorities'. I decide whether or not I should answer any other questions by police but I realize that they don't like what you are doing or they wouldn't pull you over in the first place. Questions like 'Do you have any guns of knives in your vehicle' are normally way out of line and are intended to escalate the routine traffic stop to something more serious and costly to you. Think about that question and consider how best to answer it. If you say No to that question(whether you do or not) then you have waived your right to privacy and it is none of the officer's business unless you have a criminal intent. I would answer by asking 'Am I free to go or I don't answer questions or am I being detained?' I would repeat this as often as necessary. What if you answered Yes to the question of having guns or knives in your vehicle? As far as I know, it is still legal(so far in Colorado) to carry guns and knives in a car for protection and it is typically no business of the police if anyone does, so long as it is not criminally intended. So what if a driver has guns and/or knives in their vehicle and they answer the police in the affirmative regarding that, then what? Might the police then ask the driver and occupants of the vehicle to step out of the vehicle while they do a search? Would this then be a warranted search? Would the police be justified in searching a vehicle during a routine traffic stop because the driver simply admitted that they had a gun or knife in their vehicle when asked? Might the police then look for drugs or other items they might deem dangerous? Police have been know to confiscate any cash in vehicles they search and it can be a lengthy and costly effort to get it back!
Most of the contents of this page appeared in the Dec. 2014 Prairie Times (p.19) news. A Mr. Totten then responded to that article in the same news paper the following month. See my response to Mr. Tottens' letter to the editor in the Prairie Times(p.22) of Jan. 2015. Mr. Totten took me to task on my letter to the editor of the Prairie Times of Dec. 2014. Mr. Totten defends the police questioning of drivers being asked any questions whatsoever by police during routine traffic stops citing Supreme Court decisions.
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