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Ferris cops writing fewer citations

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SHERRY LONG
The Ellis County Press

FERRIS - Documents show there has been a dramatic decrease in the number of citations written by Ferris police officers since Police Chief Jeff Cottongame and Lieutenant Sherman Swafford were placed on paid administrative suspension in early September.

Records obtained by The Ellis County Press show the number of citations written by the Ferris Police Department drop-ped from 729 tickets in July to only 86 tickets as of Oct. 24.

That is a decrease of 88 percent.

Monthly citations written by Ferris officer Joe Vela have fallen from 249 tickets in July to 27 tickets written in October, as of Oct. 24, according to court records.

Officer Brad Lindsey wrote 184 tickets in July and only 14 as of Oct. 24.

'I don't know that there is (any decrease in the number of citations written),' Acting Police Chief Mike Zaidle said.

'I hadn't noticed.'

Acting Mayor Scott Born said all city employees work for Ferris citizens and the city will not tell them to write tickets, however a decrease in revenue could cause spending cuts.

'There is a significant number for fines on the revenue budget, so if we have a shortfall in revenue we can only make that up by a cut in spending,' Born said.

During budget hearings in August and September, some council members said the city actually decreased in the last 20 years and did not need so many officers.

Cottongame argued the city needed all its officers to properly protect the people of Ferris.

The police department approved budget for the 2003-2004 year is $623,458.37 Cottongame had submitted a proposed budget of $747,567 asking for a 10 percent raise in salaries for his employees and $61,000 in capital projects.

No city employee was given pay raises in the 2003-2004 budget.

Cottongame earns $43,328.64 annually and his officers earn a combined total of $310,215.73 annually.

The city has projected it will earn $575,100 in revenue for the current fiscal year from citation fines, taxes on fines, defensive driving fees, arrest fees, warrant collection fees and deferred adjudication fees.

Local residents said they have noticed less patrols and a larger number of police vehicles have been seen parked at the police department continuously.

'If they are not doing their job, maybe we need to lay some people off,' resident Tony Padilla said.

'If the business is not here, the work is not here.'

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