1. Archive

Do traffic tickets trump drug busts?

Last November I was driving my kids to their elementary school. As I stopped at the red light at Central Avenue at 49th Street, I saw 12 to 15 St. Petersburg police cars lined up on the various cross streets, eight of which had flashers on and cars pulled over.

When the light changed, I went through the intersection and was stopped and issued a traffic ticket for allegedly going 25 in a school zone. The fine was $220.

Yes, there were cones and signs marking the 15 mph speed limit and, yes, being a parent of young children I am concerned with safety. I still felt quite violated.

I continued south on 49th Street to 18th Avenue S, where I turned east, heading to the kids' school. Once on 18th I looked out and there were five or six guys that looked like teenagers, discreetly flagging down cars. I observed a couple of cars stopping and exchanging money for small packages with these guys. Now, a year later they are still out there, while the police force is still operating a sting operation 18 blocks away giving tickets to people on their way to work or taking their kids to school.

I want the children to be safe. But it seems odd that about a mile away, where people are blatantly selling drugs, there are no officers to be seen. Maybe there's too much revenue in traffic violations, but isn't there a safety issue with selling drugs in the street?

Jeff Voegeli, St. Petersburg