MORRISON, Colo. (KDVR) – Even the police chief in the town of Morrison, Colorado, learned you can’t fight City Hall.
Chief George Mumma Jr. accepted retirement on Aug. 12 after meeting with Town Manager Kara Winters, who complained his officers weren’t aggressive enough in writing traffic tickets, according to Mumma.
“It was made clear that our budget was based on traffic revenue,” Mumma said.
Mumma joined the department in Nov. 2017 when he said it had “One of the worst reputations in the Denver Metro area,” because it was known for being a speed trap.
“The officers weren’t trained and weren’t doing a lot of things other than writing tickets,” according to Mumma.
In a memo obtained by KDVR, Winters told police officers Chief Mumma’s retirement was related to three major policy issues: face masks, traffic speed and vehicle noise.
Winters wrote, “Among the most important was the requirement that all town employees – including our police officers – consistently wear face masks in public places. We also were not aligned with respect to the board’s mandate that the department more effectively control traffic speeds and vehicle noise throughout the town.”
Mumma said he supports the wearing of face masks but prefers to follow the governor’s directive that allows officers some flexibility based on circumstances. He also acknowledged that Morrison struggled to maintain a balance between bars in town dependent upon motorcyclists and residents who complain about the noise created by some motorcyclists and hot rod cars.
But he said the number one issue was traffic tickets and how much revenue they created for the police department.
“Usually an agency has some other form of revenue (besides traffic citations) coming in that addresses the police department,” said Mumma who said he was never comfortable with the fact Morrison Police received 100% of its revenue from traffic tickets, “It’s an ethical issue for me.”
According to documents released at a recent Board of Trustees meeting, Morrison made $988,856 in citations in 2018 and $940,696 in 2019 and was on pace for a similar amount in 2020 despite a big drop in April. Mumma blamed the falling citations on COVID-19, “COVID hit, traffic stopped. We really didn’t have a bunch of traffic to enforce.”
Court revenue received thus far in 2020 is $558,080.
Mumma created a traffic division of three officers while the rest of the force worked crime. Multiple officers told sister station KDVR that Mumma was beloved for transforming the force from a ticket writing enterprise into an investigative agency.
A letter sent by the Morrison Police Department to the board of trustees said, “Chief Mumma is a man of high ethics and standards,” adding his “retirement has been forced without basis” before asking for Mumma to “resume his role as chief of police, effectively immediately.”
“I’ve never been so proud of a group as I have these guys,” Mumma said of his former department.
Officers told KDVR they paid for their own badges and new car decals were funded by the state’s VIN Inspection Program, not the town. In addition, Chief Mumma equipped every officer with a body camera about a month ago using funds from a grant.
The chief reports to the town manager who said it’s a personnel issue, which she won’t discuss. KDVR emailed the mayor and town trustees, but no one responded.