It takes a village…and a camera to catch speeders

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RIVER BEND, Mo. -- A tiny village just north of the Missouri River along Highway 291 in Jackson County is defending its use of a stationary camera to catch speeding drivers.

According to the 2010 census, River Bend, Mo. had a population of only 10 people, but in one year, police in the area have issued more than 500 speeding tickets using the stationary roadside camera.

"How does the town use their revenue, what is their budget, who are their officers?" asked Valerie Summer, who received a speeding ticket there, along with a $100 fine.

She paid the fine, but decided to investigate further and was frustrated when she didn't get any answers.

"The village of River Bend and their attorney has blatantly refused to honor the open records request," said Summer.

River Bend is too tiny to have its own police force or even a city hall building, but it does have an agreement with Sugar Creek Police to enforce the speed limit with a roadside camera.

FOX 4's Rob Low called Steve Majors, an attorney in River Bend, to ask if River Bend really has authority to issue speeding tickets.

"Yes. I believe they do," Majors said. "They're a recognized village in the state of Missouri."

The Missouri Attorney General's office has also tried to get information from River Bend about the camera, the tickets and the revenue, but their letters went unanswered. too. The attorney general's office sent letters in March, April and again in June.

"Our office has tried to contact you on several occasions and have been unsuccessful in those attempts concerning the status of the village's response," the letter stated.

The Missouri Department of Transportation told FOX 4 that stationary radar is only allowed on state highways, and only if a police officer is monitoring the equipment.

Valerie Summer said she has never seen anyone there, but one River Bend resident FOX 4 talked to said she sees them there every time she drives by. However, she wasn't certain what her small town did with the income it receives from the tickets.

"I'm not sure I'm privy to that," said Stephanie Hasselman. "Snow removal in the winter is one that I know of. Other than that I'm not sure."

Late Wednesday afternoon, the River Bend attorney we spoke to hand-delivered to FOX 4 the documents that Valerie Summers and the attorney general had requested.

FOX 4's Rob Low said he will look over them in the coming days and have an update on FOX 4 News and fox4kc.com.

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