Red Light Cameras Nab Police Cars Speeding

By Rick Smith

CEDAR RAPIDS - The Police Department's new cadre of red-light and speed enforcement cameras are catching the enforcers, too.

Cedar Rapids Police Chief Greg Graham reports that the enforcement cameras had snapped photos of 26 Cedar Rapids police cars speeding or running red lights as of last week.

No, these photos don't immediately end up being tossed aside, the chief says.

Upon review, Graham reports:

Five of the potential violations were deemed not to be violations; officers were operating in "legitimate" fashion. For instance, they were tailing a speeder at the speeder's speed.

However, in six other instances, officers were issued letters of discipline because they did not have their patrol car's lights and sirens operating as they should have when they were speeding to a call. Fifteen potential violations are still under review.

Cedar Rapids officers, Graham said, will get tickets in instances in which they should not have been speeding or running red lights. "Every one of the officers has been told that my me," the chief said.

Other law enforcement agencies aren't getting off the hook either.

In Marion, Police Chief Harry Daugherty reports that the Cedar Rapids Police Department has forwarded seven possible camera violations by Marion police officers to him for review.

In four of the seven, officers had a reason to be hustling. In three, the Marion officers have been issued citations, which they must pay, Daugherty says.

Typically, he says, Marion officers are in Cedar Rapids delivering arrested suspects to the Linn County Jail in downtown Cedar Rapids. Often the officers need to hurry back to Marion for calls. In the three instances in which officers are getting tickets, "nothing big was going on," Daugherty said.

Daugherty says he, Graham and Linn County Sheriff Brian Gardner have agreed to handle tickets to law enforcement vehicles in a similar way.

"We want to be consistent and show no favoritism," Daugherty says. "If my people have a reason to be speeding, I will excuse them. On the other hand, if they don't have a reason, I won't. (Otherwise), I wouldn't be able to sleep at night if I didn't."

Cedar Rapids' Graham says seven possible camera violations have been sent to the Linn County Sheriff. To date, one has been set aside, and six are pending, Graham says.

Graham also says seven tickets had been issued to other city of Cedar Rapids vehicles as of last week. One was set aside, the others are under review. They've involved city buses, a garbage truck and other city vehicles, the chief reports.
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