Morrison, CO – The popular police chief of Morrison says he was forced into retirement because he didn’t make his officers write enough traffic tickets.
When George Mumma Jr. became the police chief in Morrison in 2017, the town was only known for two things – its proximity to Red Rocks and for being one of the worst speed traps in Colorado, KDVR reported.
Now-former Chief Mumma said Morrison had “one of the worst reputations in the Denver Metro area” for giving traffic tickets when he joined that police force.
“The officers weren’t trained and weren’t doing a lot of things other than writing tickets,” the recently-retired chief explained.
Once he took office, Chief Mumma created a traffic squad and put the rest of his officers on crime-solving, KDVR reported.
Multiple police officers said that Chief Mumma changed the Morrison Police Department from a traffic enforcement agency into an investigative agency.
But Morrison has long depended on the revenue garnered from its controversial traffic enforcement practices to fund the city, KDVR reported.
Documents released at a recent Board of Trustees meeting showed that Morrison made $988,856 in traffic citation revenue in 2018 and $940,696 in traffic citation revenue in 2019.
The town was on pace to book a similar amount of traffic citation revenue in 2020 despite a huge drop in April due to the pandemic lockdowns, KDVR reported.
“COVID hit, traffic stopped,” former Chief Mumma explained. “We really didn’t have a bunch of traffic to enforce.”
Even so, the town has earned $558,080 so far in 2020 on court revenue, according to KDVR.
Morrison’s budget woes have impacted the police department in the past.
Officers had to pay for their own badges and decals for the sides of the department vehicles were funded by the state’s VIN inspection program, KDVR reported.
Chief Mumma equipped every officer with a bodycam in July using funds from a grant, not town money.
But despite his efforts, Chief Mumma was asked to take retirement during a meeting with Morrison Town Manager Kara Winters on Aug. 12, KDVR reported.
“It was made clear that our budget was based on traffic revenue,” the now-former police chief told KDVR.
Winters sent out a memo to the police force that said their chief’s retirement was tied to issues with face masks, traffic speed, and vehicle noise.
“Among the most important was the requirement that all town employees – including our police officers – consistently wear face masks in public places,” the town manager wrote. “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.”
Former Chief Mumma admitted that he bumped heads with Winters over the mandate on face masks and said he preferred to have his officers follow the governor’s guidelines that allowed some flexibility for special circumstances, KDVR reported.
He also said the town struggled with noise from motorcycles and hot rods at local bars.
However, the former police chief said the biggest issue behind the request for his retirement was the decrease in traffic ticket revenue, KDVR reported.
“Usually an agency has some other form of revenue [besides traffic citations] coming in that addresses the police department,” former Chief Mumma said.
He told KDVR that he was never comfortable with the fact the Morrison Police Department received 100 percent of its funding by issuing traffic citations.
“It’s an ethical issue for me,” the former chief explained.
Morrison police officers sent a letter to the Board of Trustees asking for Chief Mumma to “resume his role as chief of police, effectively immediately,” KDVR reported.
The letter said “Chief Mumma is a man of high ethics and standards” whose “retirement has been forced without basis.”
The town has refused to comment on the former chief’s retirement, KDVR reported.