Council studies fine collection

September 30, 1997


Staff Writer, Charles Town

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - Charles Town Police Chief Mike Aldridge wants to stop the practice of police officers collecting fines for the town's municipal court.

"It really looks like a kangaroo court," Aldridge told the mayor and council Monday night at a special meeting held at Town Hall.

Aldridge said it creates a bad perception about the police department and municipal court.

At municipal court hearings, town police officers act as bailiffs and those who pay traffic fines or parking fines hand the money to the officer, who hands the money to the judge, who passes it to the clerk of court, also a police department secretary.


"It borders on the unprofessional to have the money coming through the police department to the court system," Aldridge said.

Town prosecutor Braun Hamstead agreed the system needs to be changed.

"There needs to be a clear separation of powers and duties," Hamstead said.

Charles Town Mayor Randy Hilton said he wants the police department and municipal court to look as professional as possible.

Hilton and the council agreed to look at ways to change the system so the money goes directly to the town treasurer rather than to a police department employee.

In other business, the mayor swore in the police department's newest officer, Corey Williams, 25, of Hagerstown.

"It's always been a dream of mine," Williams said of becoming a police officer. "I was just waiting for an opportunity and I took it."

After being sworn in Monday night, Williams will hit the streets this morning with a training officer.

Williams had worked with Citicorp north of Hagerstown as a fraud representative. He recently became a military police officer in the U.S. Army Reserve.

Williams said he grew up watching police shows on television "plus I've always been interested in how the law works."

He has an uncle who is a police officer in Indianapolis.

The mayor and council also heard a complaint from a Charles Town resident who said he was given a parking ticket for parking in the wrong direction on Samuel Street, something people in the neighborhood have done for more than 20 years, he said.

Scott Coyle said he woke up on one morning last week to find the $20 ticket on his car.

Hilton said he received numerous calls from residents who received similar tickets. He said it is difficult for the mayor and council to get involved as politicians with a police matter.

Aldridge said the tickets were written by an overzealous officer.

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