Letter to the editor:

Mr. Townsend, I wanted to thank you for your recent "Letter to the Editor," and I wanted to take an opportunity to try to address some of your concerns.  Because you have focused on several items in your penned letter, I will attempt to respond to each of them.  As it pertains to your lack of awareness of accidents and the statistic surrounding traffic safety in our area, I can tell you as a board member of the MODOT Coalition for Roadway Safety, Howell County and the City of Willow Springs definitely have room for improvement as it relates to accidents.
According to last year's statistics, Howell County had a fatality crash rate of 1.25, which places us in the middle as far as performance.  There were only 11 counties that obtained a crash rate of 0 out of the 114 counties within the state.  As safety professionals, we always strive for zero accidents because of the devastating effects of loss of life, catastrophic financial impacts, and ongoing quality of life concerns that accidents pose to our communities and loved ones.  The metrics of accident reports in the following cities paints a clear picture:   Brandsville (1); Caulfield (1); Moody (3); Mountain View (3); Pomona (1); West Plains (13); and Willow Springs (9).  When we consider the population of those cities, Willow Springs appears to be deficient which is one of the primary drivers promoting increased enforcement operations.  So, although you apparently don't see the need for "speeding tickets", ---- the statistical data proves otherwise. We continue to have individuals travel through town and on the highways at unsafe speeds that have resulted in accidents, sometimes in excess of 100MPH.    
When I first read your letter, I thought that you were angry because you had recently received a traffic ticket --------.  I understand that nobody enjoys getting a citation, but I was surprised to find that you haven't even been stopped.  That drove me to look at our agency's statistics for traffic stops which was also surprising.  Year-to-date, the Willow Springs Police Department has conducted 476 traffic stops, 200 of which resulted in a summons and the remaining 276 as warnings.  Only 42% of the stops resulted in actual citations!  So, again your conjecture and assessment of the situation appears to be unfounded.  In evaluating your presumption on our self-serving attempts to increase revenue, I can assure you that it costs us more for staffing enforcement actions than the 200 tickets could possibly cover, especially when you consider the court costs associated for trying each case.   Most of our highway safety enforcement activity is funded through grants allocated by the state for traffic-related policing.   
In trying to find some common ground that I can agree with you on, I concur that Howell County is doing a good job and I respect the Sheriff and the deputies within that organization.  I can also agree that we do take an oath to protect and serve, and to enforce the Constitution and laws of the State in a fair and impartial manner.   We do not have two sets of rules – one for the elite and one for everyone else.  I do not understand the personal attacks on Officer Hedlesten, all of which appear to be completely unfounded.  I am especially proud to be a part of the Willow Springs Police Department and I, like the Chief, stand with our officers.      
Alan F. Lewis 
Assistant Chief of Police 
Willow Springs, MO  
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