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Call it a shakedown
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

How convenient for Springdale Police Chief Kurt Wright and town manager Richard Wixom that the 5th District Court absolved them of felony charges of mismanaging traffic fines because they "and everyone who worked under them were just following the town's policy."

Judge Wallace Lee said that while the practice of collecting cash fines from tourists at traffic stops didn't "pass the smell test," he didn't find evidence the two officials knew that what they were doing was illegal.

Defense attorneys argued that no one had informed Springdale that putting the money in the town treasury was illegal and that the funds were eventually sent to the Hurricane Justice Court.

Convenient might not be the most appropriate word for this transgression. Extortion, blackmail and shakedown are also words that might apply to these actions perpetrated against visitors to Zion National Park.

Former police officers testified that if tourists (especially foreign tourists) didn't have the cash to pay their fines on the spot, police would follow them to an ATM.

Let's see, an armed official pulls you over, demands cash, and then forces you to an ATM for immediate payment.

If unclear, look up the meaning of "extortion."

Robert Hoff

West Jordan

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