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07-10-06, 11:52 PM #1
Mayor uses racial/sexual slurs towards police & tells them to write Hispanics tickets
Coopertown (TN) Mayor Danny Crosby routinely told police officers to ticket at least three or four motorists a day so the city could pay for services without a property tax, two town police officers testified in court this morning.
The mayor also told police that Hispanics were “easy targets” for tickets and told officers to monitor particular roads in search of political adversaries, according to testimony.
District Attorney General John Carney filed a court petition to have Crosby ousted from office. He’s accused in court filings of illegally running a speed trap in the small Robertson County town; having cops profile Hispanics, soldiers and out-of-towners for tickets and using officers to harass and threaten some members of the community
Today’s testimony came during the first court hearing connected with the ouster in Robertson County Chancery Court. The hearing was called to consider the state’s request that Crosby’s mayoral powers be suspended until the end of the ouster proceedings.
“Basically … the way it was explained to us is that we have a certain budget to keep,” said Coopertown Police Officer Charles Consiglio.
“There was not really a set number...what was said was that we should really be out there writing three or four tickets a day,” Consiglio said.
He testified that officers were told that it was a “big deal” to write tickets to fund the operation of government, since Coopertown does not have a city property tax. Consiglio was hired by the department in January.
“The only thing I have been told is maybe four (tickets) a day is the magic number,” testified police Sgt. Charles “Chuck” Williams. He said he writes about 40 tickets a month, but doesn’t average four a day.
Williams said in court he was once moved from day shift to night shift patrol because he wasn’t writing enough tickets.
Consiglio also testified about a traffic ticket issued to Madison resident T. Allen Morgan. Crosby refused to accept the check Morgan mailed in as payment for his ticket because Morgan had written “For speed trap” on its subject line. The mayor later acquiesced and accepted Morgan’s check.
But when the mayor first saw the check with “for speed trap” written on it, he was “enraged,” Consiglio testified. The officer said in court that Crosby used homosexual slurs against Morgan, and later testified that the mayor used racial slurs referring to blacks.
Consiglio and Williams also testified that the mayor told them to pay close attention to some of his political foes, including Coopertown Alderman Terry Scott. Both officers said they did not follow the mayor’s orders.
Although he testified that the mayor had told officers Hispanics were an “easy target” for traffic tickets because they often didn’t have drivers’ licenses or insurance, Consiglio testified under cross examination by Crosby’s attorney that officers at the department do not racially profile motorists. He and Williams also testified that Coopertown officers don’t pull over drivers who aren’t speeding.
“I don’t know of an officer who works for the Coopertown Police Department that’s ever wrote a bad ticket,” Williams said in court.
Both officers said they didn’t always follow through on Crosby’s orders, even though Williams said at times he would agree to do things Crosby told him to do.
“If you go along with it, it is a lot easier...,” Williams testified.
“I need a check worse than anybody at that department,” Williams later testified. “I’m not going to put my job in jeopardy.”
The morning’s testimony also included statements from a Coopertown resident who accused the mayor and two aldermen of conducting city business in secret, as well as a motorist who had witnessed officers ticketing drivers on Highway 49 near Interstate 24, and two who were ticketed in the area.
Nick Vacco of Lyles, Tenn., said that when he appeared in court in April to argue the ticket he got in January, most of the others in court were Hispanic.
In all, more than 30 witnesses were subpoenaed to appear in court for today’s hearing. The hearing is scheduled to reconvene at 1 p.m., and officials have said it will likely last at least two days.
Crosby did not take the stand in court this morning.
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