Is Tombstone becoming a speed trap?

Mainstreet in Tombstone, Arizona. Photo by Arizona Sonora News Service
Mainstreet in Tombstone, where no speeding tickets are being issued. Photo by Arizona Sonora News


Drivers beware.

So far this year the Tombstone Marshal’s Office has issued three times the amount of traffic citations compared to last year.

The reason why the Tombstone Marshal’s Office are issuing more tickets is because the increase of deputies on staff.

Deputy Ivan Bernal of the Tombstone Marshal’s Office says officers have their own criteria on how and when they issue out speeding tickets.

“Depends on where a driver is caught speeding, either in town, highway or a city street can influence each officer.”

Bernal believes the cushion for speeders is around 5-10 mph.

Speed limits are meant to be followed by every driver. Officers have the right to issue a ticket for exceeding just 1 mph over the posted limit.

According to the Tombstone Marshal’s Office, officers issue Form 28-701A for drivers in accidents and failure to control their speed. Since Jan. 1, 2012 the Tombstone Marshal’s Office has given out 240 tickets.

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In 2012 they handed out 90 citations, 2013 only 38 tickets, and only 26 last year. This year they are on pace to easily pass their total from three years ago. From Jan. 1, 2015 to October the Tombstone Marshal’s Office have issued 86.

The historic town is known for attracting tourists from all over the United States. This does not mean they are the only ones being targeted. Bernal says that local residents count for an equal amount of tickets issued.

When Bernal joined the Tombstone Marshal’s Office in 2014 there were only four deputies. Later that year they had two deputies.

In 2013, he believes there were two to three deputies on staff. Now Tombstone has six deputies working for the marshal’s office.

The fluctuation of deputies on staff illustrates the reason for the change in citations given the past four years.

Tombstone Mayor Dusty Escapule explains that they increased the deputies on staff to have around-the-clock coverage. With the limited number of officers in previous year, the town was paying time and a half to deputies costing too much for the city. “It only made sense to hire more officers,” said the mayor.

Deputy Bernal says many factors will decide on when he issues a ticket. “It depends on how fast there going and their attitude.”

Brandon Bracamonte is a reporter for Arizona Sonora News, a service from the School of Journalism with the University of Arizona. Contact him at

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