OLIVER, Ga. (WTOC) - Drivers who live around Oliver, Ga. say it’s a known speed trap – one that’s been talked about and written about for years.
Now, the Oliver Police Department is under the radar of the Georgia Department of Public Safety. That’s after the DPS Office of Professional Standards determined the department wrote 132 tickets on a road where it didn’t have jurisdiction.
Those tickets over a two-year period, brought in more than $40,000 in fines to the Oliver Municipal Court.
A WTOC investigation determined the average ticket was around $342. One driver paid as much as $875 and another one agreed to serve 30 hours of community service.
It’s a reality that one driver is still trying to reconcile after learning the truth about her ticket.
“I was hurt because how can the law break the law? And it’s like you want us to have integrity. You want us to do everything that’s right. Why can’t they?”
The speed trap on Kildare Road fell apart earlier this year after Oliver Police pulled over another driver. Police let the driver go with a warning, but he decided to file a complaint with the Georgia Department of Public Safety, according to records WTOC obtained about the DPS investigation.
DPS quickly determined Kildare Road is not on the Georgia Department of Transportation’s list of Approved Roads for the use of a speed detection device, according to a copy of DPS’ investigative findings.
Speed detection permits and the roads where they are used are regulated under Georgia State Code. Investigators wanted to know why Oliver Police was writing tickets on Kildare.
During a recorded interview with DPS investigators in January, Oliver Police Chief Pat Kile explained, “The only time we have ever gone out there is when the City Council asks us to go out there,” he said about the decision to patrol Kildare Road.
DPS suspended Oliver Police Department’s speed detection device permit, but in April agreed to reinstate it under one condition: That it’s used correctly, according to an April 17 letter DPS sent to Oliver Police.
To make sure, DPS will periodically review OPD's records over the next 12 months, according to an April 17 letter DPS sent to Chief Kile.
The only two roads Oliver Police has jurisdiction to run radar: Highway 17 and Highway 24.
In the April 17 letter, DPS Commissioner Col. Gary Vowell notified Police Chief Pat Kile about the findings of the investigation, and what should happen next.
“I am ordering OPD to immediately notify Ms. Pittman, the Oliver City Clerk, that these 132 citations should never have been issued, since the City of Oliver Police Department is not authorized to operate speed detection devices on Kildare Road,” according to a 2-page letter.
It’s unclear if that ever happened.
Chief Kile refused an interview with WTOC and referred the news station to his attorney when asked about DPS’ findings. Pittman did not return a call and neither did Municipal Court Judge Grady Reddick.
As for one of the driver’s ticketed, she says no one from the city has contacted her. She wants a refund, but more than that.
“Just apologize and say, ‘hey, we were out of line, we were wrong, we broke the law and would you please accept our apology.’”
If you received a speeding ticket and want to know if the police agency has jurisdiction on the road where the ticket was written, there is a way to find out.
You’ll need to file an open records request with the Georgia Department of Transportation. Ask for the speed detection permit for the agency and the corresponding approved roadways where the permit can be used.