It looks like no one will be saying in the spring “We didn't have a winter!!!”.  After the blizzard around the first of the year we have had some truly cold weather.  Rather than complain I always tell myself simply “It's Winter”.   It's still two and a half months until early April so I think with the weather patterns shaping up as they are we may as well expect a lot more snow.  Good in some ways, bad in others.  We will make however, of that I am sure.....

In talking with Sheriff Borth he seems optimistic that with a grant already in the works a truly modern generator capable of running the dispatch center and perhaps the entire courthouse, at least on a limited basis may happen.  Of course, money and paperwork takes time.  Hopefully not too long.  The area of the state I am originally from was struck with a devastating ice storm last week.  If this does not illustrate how bad we need to be more prepared and self-sufficient I don't know what does.  If we had been hit with that storm and we were fortunate we were not, we would have received little or no help from downstate.  Not that no one would want to help but it would have been stretched too thin.  Hopefully we will be more ready if it happens again.  Having a 911 center up and running to operate from will certainly help......

As for OHP matters I am now back to “road trooper” status and working Cimarron County again.  I will no longer be driving to Guymon most of the time and will be working accidents and patrolling here every day I work.  I learned a lot during the six months I was an “Acting Lieutenant” but as I have always said I am just a trooper and very happy with that.  Who knows what the future may bring but for the foreseeable time I will just be here and be happy......

      One thing I know will be an issue soon will be a few may be complaining about seeing me catching speeders on county roads as I am one who likes to patrol them.  As I have said in months past ALL county roads, paved and dirt are legally highways the same as U.S. 287, U.S. 56, and U.S. 64/412.  OHP is responsible for patrolling them the same as the “main highways”.  A well known man of some status told myself and two other troopers a few months ago he had no idea the county road speed limit was 55 and that he always thought it was 65.  County road speed limits have always been 55 or less.  To those who might argue “Why” I say this.  Take U.S. 287 south for example.  It is what many call a “super two-lane”.  There are wide shoulders most of the way, passing lanes and it is clearly marked.  Even so the speed limit is 65 mph.  Why should narrow, un-marked, non-shouldered county roads be the same speed limit???  They are all 55 in Cimarron County or less.  We are fortunate here.  Most counties downstate have lowered the county road speed limits to 45 mph and some to 40.  Just a friendly reminder,  “I'm back”.........

Something I have heard a little about during the six months I was serving as lieutenant and not writing many tickets was people howling about the cost of citations.  First of all,  law enforcement officers do not set the bonds.  I have always found it ironic that we get the heat from doing our jobs and writing tickets and that some even call their state senators and representatives to complain.  This may surprise a few but guess who sets the fines and court costs.  Your senators and representatives.  In Oklahoma and many states little money is budgeted to run most aspects of our court system.  If all ticket revenue was to be taken away for an entire year statewide the Oklahoma justice system would virtually collapse.  I don't have the figures at this time, but will provide them at at a later date if those of you who read this column let me know you would like to hear exactly where the money goes..... 

      The same man who complained about troopers working county roads also stated that he had a problem with deputies writing tickets.  He stated something to the effect that “It's a revenue deal”.  Deputies writing traffic citations are the same as troopers doing it.  Same court, same fines etc.   Personally, I applaud sheriff Borth for allowing his deputies to do it.  I have known many sheriffs during my time in law enforcement but only Sheriff Keith Borth with the backbone to allow his men to work traffic as they see fit.  To me, the bottom line is that we are all law enforcement officers.  We simply have duties that vary.  If you were to look at the entire breakdown of where money from citations goes you would see OHP and the sheriff of each county actually get a very small amount of direct revenue from money collected from citations.  One thing we all have in common however is that if we are seen at the courthouse visiting, at a restaurant eating, or especially at a “Donut Shop” some say we are loafing.  If we are out writing tickets we are being too hard.  At least those things are said by some.....  The only tried and true way to get people to slow down, drive more safely and to obey the law in general is to hit them in the place it hurts most.  The pocketbook.  That is one thing that has never changed and likely never will.  I paid a couple of tickets in my youth myself.  Didn't like it much either.  Like most if not all of us, I was caught only a couple of times out of the countless times I was not.  I did learn to slow down and to not run stop signs however.....

In closing this week I again thank those of you who continue to tell me you read and enjoy this column.  I continue to be proud to live in Boise City and to serve those of you who are such wonderful people.  I have had the feeling recently some of you and some friends downstate wonder that now that we have had some rough weather if I might want to transfer out of here.  Quite the contrary.  Seeing how people handle things during times of crisis are the true measure of their fortitude and worth to a community whether good or bad.  I saw who could be counted on during tough times, and who seemed to disappear.  Those who stepped up and helped those in need and those in need are the ones I strive to serve.  I've never been more happy to be here.......

 Trooper Duane Johnson #280

Oklahoma Highway Patrol