Investigation Reports Small Town of Fenton, Louisiana, Brought In Over $1M In Revenue on Traffic Fines
Fenton, Louisiana, Mayor Eddie Alfred is the judge and jury when it comes to traffic fines and punishments. Residents flag the conflict of interest.
Pro Publica reported that the residents of the small town of Fenton, Louisiana, were shocked to find that speeding tickets generated more than one million in revenue.
With the fiscal year ending in June 2022, the town brought in $1.3 million through ticketing–five times as high as the average Louisiana municipality its size. Fenton covers nearly 20 blocks with a city hall building, library, gas station, Dollar General, a church, and one small public housing complex. Visitors from central Louisiana can get through the whole town in under a minute, and if someone has to go to court for a speeding ticket, expect the mayor to be the presiding judge.
Fenton village attorney Mike Holmes says the mayor presides in a “neutral, impartial manner,” coinciding with Louisiana law.
However, court records showed the town may be biased in handling certain situations. Case summaries included notes from village employees and officers saying not to “fix” tickets or reduce charges for drivers with what is described as having a “bad attitude.” Other notes suggest the police chief and other administration play a part in charges being dismissed, but Holmes said tickets are only dismissed through him.
During the investigation, Mayor Eddie Alfred discussed the need for police to write more tickets.
“We need to write more traffic tickets,” Alfred said. “I talked to the chief yesterday.”
Residents didn’t take too kindly to the mayor’s comments.
“Like it’s annoying, it’s annoying, it’s really annoying,” Fenton resident Cody Brock said regarding speed limits in the city.
“I don’t understand how sometimes it be like 45 then 50 and like it should be straight until you get into a town, but, if it’s not in a town, then I don’t understand, like down there.”
Another resident, Danny Alfred, says there needs to be someone held accountable. He mentioned that he believes the city is setting up intentional traps for him and his fellow residents.
“Where is the money going? There’s only one person that has access to it,” Alfred said.
Alfred pointed out that other things need to be fixed and updated in their small city, like faulty water systems, open ditches, and providing a safe space for children to play.
“We just spent $112,000 on a library with one computer and eight books, and not one person went through the doors. Nobody even work there, so what is it,” he said. “I mean, we don’t even understand what it is, that’s the kind of stuff they doing, and then they get mad when we say something.”