Operation Thunder continued its gradual move this week from the streets of Augusta to the Richmond County courthouse, with hundreds of thousands of dollars in traffic fines being pumped back into local government.
For every citation issued during the three-month enforcement blitz, more than 13,000 police officers, sheriffs and Superior Court clerks across Georgia will see a slight increase in their retirement pay.
Two dollars go to the each of the state retirement funds for Georgia’s 159 elected sheriffs and Superior Court clerks, including Richmond County’s own Richard Roundtree and Elaine S. Johnson.
The profits are higher for the officers issuing tickets. State records show they get 5 percent of paid traffic fines, through a pension known as the Georgia Peace Officers’ Annuity and Benefit Fund.
The General Assembly and Gov. Herman Talmadge created the Peace Officers’ Annuity and Benefit in 1950 as a supplemental retirement fund. Today, the account has 13,942 active members, a retirement roll of 4,525 officers and assets nearing $580 million.
“The fund is not an incentive to write traffic tickets, by any stretch,” Executive Director Bob Carter said. “Most officers do not even realize the fund is in part funded by traffic ticket fines.”