Moscow Mills logo

Moscow Mills, Mo. - On Nov. 18, Attorney General Eric Schmitt filed a lawsuit against the City of Moscow Mills for Senate Bill Five violations. 

Moscow Mills, Diamond and Marshfield are cities that have faced or are facing lawsuits by the Attorney General over Senate Bill Five violations. The bill was sponsored by Schmitt back in 2015 to stop ticketing abuses in Missouri’s municipalities.

“Taxation by citation breaks down necessary trust between citizens and government, and treating citizens like ATMs for minor infractions is unacceptable and unsustainable. Missourians shouldn’t have to choose between paying bills or paying exorbitant ticket fees,” stated Schmitt in a press release back in 2019 over the success of the bill.

 

The lawsuit filed against Moscow Miles stipulates that the city and the Chief of Police, Terry Foster, allegedly have enforced a ticket quota for officers within the department.

The lawsuit also alleges that Chief Foster terminated an officer who raised concerns about the ticket quota and the legality surrounding ticket quotas.

A whistleblower familiar with the law enforcement agency’s internal operations submitted credible information to the Office of the Missouri Attorney General in 2021. 

The information included that the City of Moscow Mills and the Moscow Mills Police Department created a “traffic enforcement officer” position back in 2013. This position, which originally started as a volunteer position, would become a part-time position. The salary for the position would be allegedly paid for with ticket citation revenue.

Chief Foster allegedly gave instructions to the traffic enforcement officer to issue at least ten citations per day, while other officers were instructed to issue a minimum of five citations per month, according to the lawsuit.

The citation goal of the traffic enforcement officer was to allegedly write 160 citations per month to secure $160,000 in court citation revenue per year. A line item of $160,000 was included in the City of Moscow Mills Missouri 2021 Budget for “Court Fine Revenue."

Per the lawsuit, Chief Foster has allegedly stated, “warnings don’t help us” when it comes to issuing citations over giving warnings for traffic violations. 

When the whistleblower approached Mayor Patrick Flannigan to address ticket quota concerns, Chief Foster allegedly met with the Mayor and stated, “one way or another [the officer] is [explicative] gone”.

Approximately two weeks later, Chief Foster terminated the officer’s employment, according to the lawsuit.

Chief Foster has been with the department for 14 years.

“The future of the Moscow Mills Police Department is bright with current and future projects in various stages of development or planning. During these difficult economic times we constantly evaluate our business model so we can take the best practice approaches in the response to calls for service, crime prevention and quality of life issues facing our residents,” Chief Foster wrote in a general address to the people on the Moscow Mills’ website. 

The Attorney General’s Office is asking for a preliminary and permanent injunction prohibiting the City of Moscow Mills from enforcing a traffic ticket quota scheme, according to the Attorney General’s website. 

“At this time, it’s being investigated. Until this investigation concludes, I really have no comment,” explained the mayor of Moscow Mills, Patrick Flannigan.