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Council to mull court fee ordinance for traffic violators

By Staff | Mar 9, 2012

After discussion last month, the City Council will put to vote an ordinance that would add a $2 fee for a violation of state, penal or criminal statute, as well as for any traffic violation.

The monies will be used for criminal justice education degree programs and training courses for city patrol officers and support personnel.

Councilmember Kevin McGrail, who will sponsor the bill, said the reasoning behind it is budgetary, so that continuing to educate police officers won’t come out of the general budget.

“Everyone is trying to make do with less and continuing education was impacted by the cut in the general fund,” McGrail said. “Maintaining continuing education is what went by the wayside.”

With the ordinance, McGrail said the police department, which has spent years maintaining its accreditation, will continue to do so.

“That $2 per ticket will defray costs and allow us to maintain our accreditation,” McGrail said. “Our citizens prefer to have a professional police force. Let’s maintain that and keep it in place. To let it slide for the budget is foolish.”

Florida statutes already allow the fee for noncriminal infractions, with Sarasota and Naples already doing it, McGrail said. If passed, the law would take effect immediately.

District 2 Councilmember John Carioscia, a former police officer, thinks it’s a “win-win” for the city and the taxpayers.

“The taxpayer who isn’t speeding will benefit because it won’t come from the general fund,” Carioscia said.

Carioscia said it makes sense to get back money for the services of the police force, saying it’s already being done in most municipalities, and even here in certain aspects.

“With the burglar alarm ordinance, after so many alarms, there’s a charge. If the police come to do a service, you should pay,” Carioscia said. “We paid an officer to be in court, we’ll try to get something back.”

Carioscia said the ordinance would bring tens of thousands of dollars into a criminal justice education trust fund separate of any other account and solely for criminal justice education.

For those who oppose the ordinance, McGrail said, the $2 fee should be the least of their worries.

“You have to pay more for the ticket and for the increased insurance costs,” McGrail said. “If you don’t want to pay $2, don’t speed.”

“This is perfect. For those who don’t commit illegal acts, you don’t have to worry,” Carioscia said.

Officials with the Cape Coral Police Department weren’t available for comment.