Springfield, MO (STL.News) – Today, Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt announced that his office launched an investigation into the Missouri State University, Office of University Safety, for allegedly enforcing a parking ticket quota and violating Senate Bill 5 and other related legislation. The Attorney General’s Office learned through whistleblowers that officials in Missouri State University’s Office of University Safety allegedly encouraged officers to write an increasing amount of parking tickets, satisfying quotas of parking tickets, in order to increase funding for the department and University.
“Students attending Missouri State University already have enough financial burden between tuition, books, boarding, and more – overzealously ticketing on campus only subjects students to more financial struggles,” said Attorney General Schmitt. “Missourians – especially students – shouldn’t be used solely as ATMs to drive revenue for public institutions. The safety of students at the University must be the number one priority for the Office of University Safety, not the number of tickets that are written. When we see violations of Senate Bill 5, which guards against taxation by citation, we will investigate and, where appropriate, take action and enforce the law. We look forward to working with Missouri State University and the Office of University Safety to solve the issue quickly and fairly.”
According to the Attorney General’s Office, whistleblowers contacted the office with credible information outlining their concerns. The whistleblowers were concerned that they were violating the law as they complied with the direction of their supervisors to increase the number of parking tickets, satisfying quotas of parking tickets, and increasing the number of boots placed upon cars, in an effort to further increase revenue for the University and to hire additional officers. It was reported to the Attorney General’s Office that the Office of University Safety increased the number of hours dedicated to ticketing enforcement, directing its safety officers to spend the additional hours “solely on parking enforcement.”
In addition, the University appears to have established ticket quotas, monitoring the number of tickets its offices issue on a daily basis. Reports are that safety officers were told to “step up” their ticket counts. One supervisor appears to have told officers to “show people what we are made of.”
The investigation launched by the Attorney General’s Office will review information provided by whistleblowers as well as documents received from Missouri State University to determine further action.