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Missouri attorney general sues Marshfield

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Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt’s office yesterday filed suit against the city of Marshfield.

The suit alleges the Marshfield Police Department enforced a traffic ticket quota in violation of state law and that its chief made efforts to intimidate whistleblowers, according to a news release.

Schmitt cited Missouri Senate legislation — that he helped pass as a state senator before he became attorney general — blocking traffic quotas. Schmitt’s office in April sued the city of Diamond for enforcing a traffic ticket quota, after which Marshfield Police Chief Doug Fannen reportedly said the Diamond chief “messed up” by documenting the policy, according to the lawsuit.

“With this lawsuit against the city of Marshfield, we’re sending a clear message to municipalities across the state: Even if you don’t write your traffic ticket quota policy down, we will take action to hold you accountable,” Schmitt said in the release.

The number of citations filed by the city’s officers jumped to 1,386 in 2018 from 646 in 2017 and 383 in 2016.

The lawsuit also alleges the Marshfield Board of Aldermen hired a “traffic enforcement officer” whose pay was determined by traffic tickets. Additionally, an officer who confronted Fannen about the alleged illegal ticket quota was retaliated against with threat of a felony charge after he resigned, according to the release.

In a news release prepared by Marshfield City Attorney Paul Link, officials with the town deny the allegations that the police instituted a traffic ticket quota policy and that Fannen attempted to intimidate a whistleblower.

“We feel the allegations are meritless,” the statement reads. “The city’s increase in traffic ticket revenues are easily attributable to the city hiring additional officers in each of the past two years to keep pace with the community’s growth.”

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