FERRIER FILES: Officer risks job to secretly record meetings, expose ticket quotas

FOX 17 News

Talk about a hot seat, Ridgetop Police Chief Bryan Morris decided to investigate his own employers, Mayor Tony Reasoner and Vice Mayor McCaw Johnson for reportedly demanding illegal ticket quotas and possible official misconduct.

“I battled with it for a year. I've tried to talk to them and explain the situation, it’s just got to the point, somebody has to do something about it. I can't compromise my morals and do what they want to do,” said Chief Morris.

Officer Shawn Taylor risked his job to secretly record meetings between police and city officials.

In the recordings, Vice Mayor McCaw Johnson can be heard saying the following:

“I will make a proposal right now. I will give the two bottom guys a raise for the 12-month period and hire back the seventh officer if you write an average of 210 tickets a month. I will do that, but I better see 210 tickets a month," said Vice Mayor Johnson.

Councilman Mike Harris was at that meeting and reluctantly voted yes, but says he immediately regretted it and will never support ticket quotas again.

“I want an investigation. I want this to stop. I want everyone to realize this is what is going on behind closed doors. This has got to stop,” said Harris.

The mayor and vice mayor ordered bi-weekly ticket reports. The chief had to fill out how many tickets each officer is writing each day.

Undercover officer Shawn Taylor who did most of the covert taping says it is disgraceful.

“Law enforcement is not about tickets. It’s about trying to cut down on crime. That is a local government taking advantage of its people. That’s not what we are here for,” said officer Taylor.

Ridgetop Mayor Tony Reasoner and Vice Mayor McCaw Johnson say they want the entire police payroll to be funded by traffic citations. When payroll was $54,000 higher than citations, there was a demand for repayment, even if it was from the sale of police cars.

More from the secret recordings:

Vice Mayor Johnson: “If you sell the cars first, the general fund needs to get back 54,000 dollars.”

Chief Morris: “What's the 54,000 dollars for?”

Vice Mayor Johnson: “The hit that we took from the general fund on revenue from the pd.”

Chief Morris: "For a city this size and the budget we have, the ticket we are writing is out of hand.”

Vice-Mayor Johnson: “From a revenue side, I can tell you there is only one way to correct that. Downsize.”

FOX 17 News investigated ticket revenues compared to cities of a similar size.

Carthage wrote $13,000 in citations. Monterey, $28,000. Woodbury, $49,000. Waynesboro, $ 55,000 Adamsville, $93,000. And then you have Ridgetop $258,000.

FOX 17 spoke with John Carney's office, the district attorney that oversees the Ridgetop area.

"The district attorney's office is aware of these allegations and is looking into them, and we cannot make any further comment while the investigation is ongoing."

RELATED STORY: FERRIER FILES: Ridgetop Police Chief says he's forced into illegal traffic ticket quotas

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