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Crime

The Great Central Expressway Speed Trap

If you’re heading north on U.S. 75, watch out for the tiny town of Fairview.
| |Illustration by Raul Arias
Fairview Police
Wild Ride: Fairview Police Chief Granver Tolliver basically created the department 20 years ago. His force of 20 has a mounted unit, and he displays a saddle in his office. Raul Arias

A few months back, D Magazine received an email from a businessman who’d been pulled over on Central Expressway by a Fairview cop. Our tipster got a ticket for not properly displaying a temporary license plate. It was in the rear plate holder; the cop said it should have been in the rear window (not true). That traffic stop led the businessman and the magazine to file multiple open records requests with four agencies in the pursuit of truth, justice, and the American Way. Here are the results of a months-long investigation:

Do all Fairview traffic tickets violate state law? Nope. Our tipster claimed that the Sandra Bland Act, signed into law by Gov. Greg Abbott in 2017, requires that every ticket issued in Texas include information about how to make a complaint or compliment, which Fairview’s tickets do not. The bill as introduced did include this stipulation, but the version that became law merely includes vague language directing law enforcement agencies to “provide public education relating to the agency’s compliment and complaint process” for tickets. 

Is Fairview operating a speed trap? Let’s go to the data! Fairview’s westernmost border is a 2.5-mile stretch of Central, which it shares with Allen. The highway’s median is the actual boundary between the two municipalities. Allen claims the southbound lanes; Fairview gets northbound. Allen has 9.5 miles of Central’s northbound and southbound lanes within its borders. We asked the city how many tickets its cops wrote—in total and on Central—for the years 2018 to 2021. Allen wrote a total of 51,400 tickets during that period, 1.5 percent of which were on Central. On average for that period, Allen wrote 20 tickets per mile per year on Central. 

Now let’s go north to McKinney, which has 15 miles of northbound and southbound lanes. McKinney wrote a total of 184,149 tickets, 10 percent of which were issued on Central. On average, McKinney writes 260 tickets per mile per year on Central.

Fairview Map
Troy Oxford

Which brings us to tiny Fairview in the middle, with its 2.5 miles of northbound-only lanes. McKinney to its north has about 192,000 people; Allen to its south has 104,000; Fairview has about 9,000. Fairview had trouble producing its ticket data, with numbers from 2018 being unreliable. Extrapolating from the other three years, Fairview appears to have written about 12,000 tickets during the four-year period, about 12 percent of which were issued on Central. That’s pretty much in line with McKinney. 

But when you take into account how short Fairview’s stretch of Central is—again, just 2.5 miles in one direction—math tells the story. Using only the three years for which Fairview could provide reliable data, the town wrote 712 tickets per mile per year on Central. That’s more than 35 times the rate of its neighbor to the south and almost three times the rate of its neighbor to the north. 

“Obviously, the numbers are what they are, regardless of what conclusion one might draw from them,” said Fairview Police Chief Granver Tolliver in an email. He mentioned how many accidents occur every year on his 2.5 miles of Central (about 100) and said his cops don’t ticket people driving less than 12 mph over the 70 mph limit. “Our objective is to save lives and reduce personal injury and property damage. … Most motorists that travel U.S. 75 through Fairview know that Fairview police enforce traffic on the highway. We do it consistently and openly. We don’t hide.”

So, yes. Fairview does appear to be operating a speed trap on Central—even if it’s hidden in plain sight. You’ve been warned.  

Author

Tim Rogers

Tim Rogers

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Tim is the editor of D Magazine, where he has worked since 2001. He won a National Magazine Award in…
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