You don't just stumble into a system like Ferguson's where the city tries to get 30 percent of it's total budget from fines, citations, and court fees. Ferguson isn't unique.
I just stumbled across this article from 2010, writen by a police officer, that lays out the potential of using police for revenue:
Based on the research for this article, there is a clear presumption of need for law enforcement to generate new income streams. A first necessary step in that process is to examine possible revenue-generating ideas.It's just so blatant and wrong to see police (or the courts, or prisons) as a source of generating revenue. If you need money, that is what taxes are for.
Their most prominent recommendations were:
• fees for sex offenders registering in a given jurisdiction,
• city tow companies,
• fine increases by 50 percent,
• pay-per-call policing,
• vacation house check fees,
• public hours at police firing range for a fee,
• police department-run online traffic school for minor traffic infractions,
• department-based security service including home checks and monitoring of security cameras by police department,
• a designated business to clean biological crime scenes,
• state and court fees for all convicted felons returning to the community,
• allowing agency name to be used for advertisement and branding,
• triple driving-under-the-influence fines by the court,
• resident fee similar to a utility tax,
• tax or fee on all alcohol sold in the city,
• tax or fee on all ammunition sold in, the city,
• public safety fees on all new development in the city,
• 9-1-1 fee per use,
• police department website with business advertisement for support,
• selling ride-a-longs to the public, and
• police department–run firearm safety classes.
Modeled after other California agencies, the party ordinance allows an administrative citation to be issued at loud parties where the music is plainly audible 50 feet from the property line. The first citation is $100, a second $200, and a third or subsequent citation within 12 consecutive months is $500. The goal of the ordinance is to reduce repeat party calls, improve the quality of life for surrounding residents, and generate a revenue stream to offset the cost of response and enforcement.
Anyway, for what it's worth, West Covina, CA, does not seem best to be a particularly bad offender in terms of milking its residents, best I could understand their municipal budget. And some of those ideas above are actually pretty good ideas.