MORRISON, Colo. (KDVR) — The Town of Morrison, long known as a speed trap, has been forced to dismiss traffic tickets after the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) learned Morrison lowered speed limits without a state traffic study.
The speed limit through downtown Morrison is 25 mph. On June 15, then-Police Chief George Mumma asked the state if he could slow traffic to 20 mph because restaurants were seating people on the sidewalk near the street due to COVID-19.
CDOT said no, not without a traffic study. But Mumma admits he lowered the speed limit anyway on a temporary basis.
“I felt it was the right decision to be made, whether that’s right or wrong today, I made the decision and we didn’t have any fatalities and no one got hurt,” said Mumma, who explained he was motivated to help downtown restaurants during the pandemic.
But Mumma said he was following orders of the town manager on July 15 when he lowered the 40 mph speed limit sign outside of town to 25 mph.
“The 40 to 25 came about from the town manager telling us the mayor wanted us to drop that speed as well,” insisted Mumma.
At the time, the police chief was trying to hang onto his job but as the Problem Solvers previously reported, Mumma was forced out Aug. 12.
Mumma maintains part of the reason he retired is because he wouldn’t go along with pressure from the town manager to make his department write more speeding tickets, which fund his department.
“My ethics on their ticket writing was excessive in the first place. That was a battle she and I had over that,” said Mumma, referring to town manager Kara Winters.
Winters wouldn’t talk to the Problem Solvers on camera but in an email told FOX31, wrote, “Unbeknownst to me the police department started issuing tickets for speeding in that area from 7/15/2020 to 8/31/2020.”
But Mumma said Winters had to assume tickets were being written because she is the person who ordered the speed limit be dropped by 15 mph as drivers left town.
“It could’ve been to gain more revenue. I don’t know,” said Mumma.
Last week, the town dismissed tickets and refunded fines already paid after it received a letter from CDOT which read in part, “The town does NOT have the authority to change speed limits on State Highways….Arbitrarily changing the speed limit is irresponsible, reckless and puts the traveling public at risk.”
“If you want to beat me up for it, I can take it. The goal of the police chief is to make sure everybody is safe,” said Mumma, insisting safety for restaurant patrons was his only goal in reducing the speed limit from 25 to 20 downtown.
Mumma said the town manager’s decision to reduce the 40 mph stretch to 25 mph was an excessive reduction and may have reinforced the town’s image as a speed trap.
In an email, Winters told FOX31 only 18 drivers were cited during the six-week period the speed limits were illegally reduced and promised all of those tickets have since been dismissed or refunded if the driver unknowingly paid the fine.