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The lead story on The (Columbia, S.C.) State newspaper this week is all about the undisputed life-saving benevolence of enhanced local law enforcement efforts …

Written by former “news columnist” John Monk (presumably in his inimitable effeminate lisp), the story documents the wild success of the “enhanced enforcement” taking place in Kershaw County, S.C. Well … the enforcement is wildly successful according to the six government officials Monk quoted in his story (no one was given space in the paper to criticize the policy, although one of Monk’s government sources did note that “some people” don’t like the new enforcement measures).

Some people?

Sheesh …

“It’s a blatant advertorial packaged as news,” one Columbia-area media critic told FITS. “But they won’t give you the courtesy of a citation when stealing your material … because you aren’t credible.”

Awww, thanks … although we’ve learned that the media’s failure to cite us is actually a badge of honor, indicative of the fact that we’ve become real competition.

Anyway, on December 9, 2005 South Carolina began enforcing primary seat belt violations – although this new policy hasn’t resulted in a reduction of traffic fatalities. In fact, there were roughly the same number of highway fatalities in South Carolina in 2006 and 2007 as there were in 2005.

Fatalities decreased noticeably between 2008-2010 – but that was due primarily to the fact that fewer vehicles were traveling on our roadways as a result of the recession. As the economy ticked back up a bit in 2011 – so did highway fatalities.

Imagine that …

Now, Kershaw County is spending $540,000 (nearly $200,000 of it coming from the state) to subsidize a naked revenue grab based in large part on writing seat belt tickets. And what a cash bonanza it’s been – bringing in $583,964 in just six months, a number that’s been inflated by the fact that police are refusing to give motorists warnings for seat belt violations.

Sheesh … we can’t wait to find out about the quotas associated with this shakedown.

Look, no website has been more supportive of local law enforcement than FITS. We believe cops and courts are core functions of government, and we’ve consistently supported funding them fully. We also have no problem with enhanced enforcement that’s legitimately designed to target drunk driving fatalities.

What we don’t approve of?

Revenue grabs that infringe on individual liberty ….