Judge hopes to help Jericho citizens upset about tickets

By Lori Brown

JERICHO, AR (WMC-TV) - An Arkansas Judge is poised to help citizens eliminate trouble in Jericho.

Problems in the tiny city began to surface when a Jericho Police officer shot the Jericho fire chief inside the city's courthouse.

The shooting happened during an argument over a traffic ticket. Since then, numerous people have come forward saying they received tickets a judge said should have never been issued.

"Police are generally thought of as people to protect the people, and people's property," said Crittenden County Melton Holt. "That's their purpose, but it's obvious that we've got three to four cars running in a town that small, they're up to something else."

Melton said he has heard enough complaints from people who live in and drive through Jericho to know something's not right.

One man was taken to jail after being stopped for a broken tail light.

"The officer flipped him around and faced to the truck and put handcuffs on him," Holt said. "He was hauled to jail."

Numerous people have complained to Holt and Action News 5 about $200 tickets for traveling three to four miles over the speed limit. Most weren't even in Jericho city limits.

Judge Holt says he was stopped two miles south of Jericho.

"Two more cars showed up, so I had three cars there to apprehend me," he said. "The thing that bothered me about it is a town of 175 or 180 population, why you would even need three policemen on duty at the same time?"

Holt says he will offer to help citizens if they want to start a petition to cease being a city and instead be under the county's jurisdiction.

The other option is for citizens to elect new officials, but in a town with 184 people - the majority of whom are elderly - finding people with interest in the jobs could be tough.

"The jobs don't pay much, but seeing how some of them are working it, they may pay more than I realize," Holt said.

The Arkansas State Police have launched an investigation into the City of Jericho. The police chief and the mayor have declined numerous attempts for comment.

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