Police Memo Raises Questions about Speeding Ticket for Government Official
(Memphis) “I got pulled over for speeding. It happens everyday to how many people. I got pulled over for speeding,” says Bob Nations, who heads up Shelby County Emergency Management.
Police say Nations was going 76 in a 65 mile zone when he was stopped by a Memphis Police officer on Interstate 40 and Hollywood around 10am on July 31st.
“(The Officer) walked up, says he needed my license. I already had it out,” said Nations.
The officer gave him a ticket.
It was pretty standard, but what may not be is what came the very next day.
A member of Police Director Toney Armstrong’s staff got involved.
Then, the same officer who wrote the ticket, also wrote a memo to the Traffic Violations Bureau.
It requested the ticket be dismissed because Nations was in a government vehicle and on duty.
News Channel 3 filed a Freedom of Information request to find out why a supervising Lieutenant signed off on a request to have the ticket dismissed.
Our request was made August 8th.
On August 9th, Nation’s attorney went to court and paid the traffic ticket.
“We paid the fine. We paid the fine”, Nations said.
MPD refused to go on camera.
In a written statement, Director Armstrong said he requested the ticket to be placed back on the court docket after he found out about the case.
He said officers have the right to ‘use discretion’ when stopping on-duty government employees in government vehicles.
There is no specific policy governing those cases.
We asked Nations if the request to drop his ticket was appropriate.
“Ok. What’s wrong with that?” he said.
He would not answer if it was appropriate.
We asked him again if he saw anything wrong with the request made to dismiss his ticket.
” I don’t care. I paid my fine,” he said.
Nations says it’s not unheard of for people to call police officers directly and ask for leniency and he is being singled out.
We asked if he has ever had a ticket dismissed.
“Well you know. No. No,” he said. “Somebody out there is malicious and gonna be entertained by the media. Ya’ll trying to make a federal case out of this.”
But for ‘regular citizens,’ who pack traffic court to deal with their tickets, it raises questions, especially when there is no indication that the speeding government vehicle was actually responding to an emergency.
“That’s favoritism. You can’t say ‘hey he works for the government’, let him go. I was speeding. I got a ticket,” says one driver.
Nations himself says we should check to see just how often this happens, suggesting that it isn’t unusual.
We did just that.
In response to our Freedom of Information Request, MPD and the Traffic Bureau both say they do not track how many tickets are dismissed, or for whom.
Our promise to you, we’re On Your Side and we’ll keep digging.
There is also video of the traffic stop and Bob Nation’s interactions with the police officer.
So far, MPD has refused to produce that video, even though it is considered evidence in a misdemeanor case.
When we get the video, you’ll see it too.