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    The union representing Montgomery County police officers is telling its members to not pay fines when they are caught speeding by the county’s new speed cameras.

    ‘‘It’s totally unacceptable the Fraternal Order of Police are advising members to not pay tickets and sticking the public with the bill,” said Councilman Philip M. Andrews (D-Dist. 3) of Gaithersburg, chairman of the Public Safety Committee. ‘‘Other agencies have not done that. The actions of the FOP are an embarrassment to the department and the county.”
    The speed cameras recorded county police officers speeding 224 times in the last eight months of 2007, police spokesman Lt. Paul Starks said. The police dismissed 76 citations because officers were responding to calls or had other valid reasons for speeding, such as catching up to other vehicles. Their stories were confirmed by examinations of dispatch records and traffic citation books.

    However, in the 148 other cases, many officers have not paid the fines while some cases remain under investigation, Starks said. Some officers have paid their speeding tickets, he said.

    In some cases, police officers have made rude gestures as the cameras recorded them speeding past.

    ‘‘This fight isn’t over yet,” Starks said. ‘‘Chief [J. Thomas] Manger is working on efforts to hold people accountable for their actions.”

    Some internal affairs investigations have begun because of the speeding, Starks said.

    The union representing the police officers, the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 35, has advised officers to not pay the $40 speeding tickets. Montgomery County put up the speed cameras in 2007 as part of a state pilot program. Motorists caught traveling more than 10 mph over the speed limit trigger a camera that photographs the vehicle, and citations are automatically sent to the vehicle’s owner.

    ‘‘Unit members should not pay or set court dates for speed camera citations issued to the employer,” a statement on the union’s Web site says. ‘‘This applies to tickets received while driving a county owned vehicle.”

    Officer Mark Zifcak, the union president, did not return calls for comment.

    The union claims that paying of fines should be negotiated under the contract.

    Andrews disagreed.

    ‘‘Being held accountable for inappropriate behavior is not a working condition that needs to be bargained,” he said.

    Manger wants to hold the officers accountable but is being blocked by the union, Andrews said.

    Manger was in meetings and unavailable for comment.

    ‘‘I was appalled,” said Assistant Chief Betsy L. Davis of the speeding officers.

    When the red light cameras were installed, a few officers received citations, but they paid the tickets and the union did not fight it, she said.

    Andrews said the scofflaw officers represent a minority.

    ‘‘MCPD is a fine department with many fine officers and led by an excellent chief, but the actions of a few can tarnish the whole department. [Manger] is facing a lot of unreasonable objections to improve accountability of the department,” he said.

    Andrews said the speed camera citations are part of a pattern shown by the FOP to block accountability. The FOP blocked installing cameras inside cruisers, saying that had to be negotiated, Andrews said.

    ‘‘I’m very pro-labor, but they should pay the fines,” said Councilwoman Duchy Trachtenberg (D-At large) of North Bethesda.

    The speed cameras were put in to make the streets safer for motorists, and officers unnecessarily speeding undermines that effort, said Council President Michael J. Knapp (D-Dist. 2) of Germantown said.

    ‘‘There’s no part of government above the law,” Knapp said.
    "Intelligence plus character that is the goal of true education." - Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

  • #2
    This is interesting. Even though there is professional courtesy between officers and citations, is there a point where you cannot ignore the situation?? Remember, traffic collisions are (let me know if I am wrong) the number one fatality for officers across the U.S.

    Comment


    • #3
      Where are these cameras positioned at? Are they on county maintained roads only or are they also located on the Interstate (I-270 etc.)?

      Comment


      • #4
        Speed camera's....just another method of revenue for a over taxed and under budgeted state.


        From my experiances traffic slows down ENOUGH when a police officer is driving around town on a 4 lane road. No one will pass the police officer......I cant imagine getting 2-3 car's on a 4 lane road keeping the speed limit to the speed limit at or before rush hour. (note this does not condone "speeding").

        Also arent there calls that do not justify "lights and sirens" responses but also demand a police officer arrive in a timely fashion?


        I'd like to see the way the law is was wrote. I imagine it holds the "registered owner" responsible as they cant prove who was driving the car (to the general public). If that's the case then the Dept. should pick it up as they own the car....that's the way of the law right? After all isnt what this article is all about? Following the law?


        Now if the departments IA want's to pursue it have fun....just hope one of the IA detectives or Command Staff is willing to take the heat if they get caught as well.


        What a joke.

        Comment


        • #5
          The speed camera situation has really gotten out of hand. The Washington post article certainly is not accurate and tries to paint officers as believing they are "above the law." Many officers, including myself have paid the fines, however the issue is that we are getting these tickets and being told to pay them on the way to calls.

          When someone is stealing your car and you call the police, did you want them to get there fast? Well it is not a "priority" call so we will be driving the speed limit to get there in the middle of the night when there are no cars on the road.

          How about if you are trying to catch up to a DUI in progress? Cant speed to get there. How about a suspicious call? Oh well.

          Officers who are on duty should not be forced to pay all these fines. An off duty officer who gets a citiation while in his patrol car is no different than any other citizen and should be expected to pay the fines.

          I work midnights and have two sets of speed cameras set up in my beat on major roads. I slow down to below the speed limit even on priority calls just because I do not feel like having to deal with the extra paperwork of having to pull my cad history and justify my actions.

          Cops are not above the law and it is not a professional courtesy issue. It is us trying to do our job and getting to our calls in a timely manner.

          Comment


          • #6
            They are placed in residential and school zones, where the speed limit is 35 mph or less, and the photo is taken only when the vehicle is going 10+ mph over the limit.

            The locations should be posted online.

            Comment


            • #7
              We have a somewhat similar problem involving red light cameras. You can blame the press.

              It all started about 20 years ago when the press got wind that the San Diego PD Chief was in the habit of canceling traffic and parking tickets for just about anybody who asked. He wasn't on the take - he was just a nice guy. They did a public records request and determined that over the years he had cancelled thousands of tickets for no valid reason. As a result, he had to resign and the Legislature passed a law that said the police can no longer void citations once they are issued, only a court can do it now.

              15 years later, San Diego PD installed red light cameras. The following year, along came the press and under a public records act request, they ask to see pictures from all red light violations where the PD decided not to issue a citation. There were roughly 500, half which were of city buses and school buses. The other half were ambulances, PD & FD vehicles, most of which did not have their emergency lights on, suggesting there was no emergency that warranted their running the light. In a significant number of the pictures, the drivers were making faces, sticking out their tongues or giving the finger to the camera, suggesting the violations were deliberate. When the press asked why citations were not issued for what appeared to be willful and deliberate violations, San Diego PD had no valid answer. Once again, the press ran article after article about preferential treatment, hypocrisy, double standards and needlessly risking public safety.

              As a result, most California agencies have taken a zero tolerance policy with respect to camera enforcement, if only to protect themselves from endless media editorials about double standards when it comes to enforcement. In turn, most cops know to turn their red light on if they are running through a camera controlled area. Red lights = emergency response = no citation = no questions asked.

              Thumbing their noses at the citations is not the way for the Maryland cops to go. While this may be a meet and confer issue, the appropriate recourse for the union is to file an unfair labor practice. The route they are taking will only pit the public against them and cause them to lose any sympathy they might have had. In addition, most states mandate that a public entity provide its employees with free legal counsel when they are charged with committing an offense during the course of their duties. Let each officer who is cited ask for the department to provide them with an attorney. If the department has to keep shelling out for lawyers, I'm going to bet they will reassess their procedures for determining when an on duty unit should receive a citation. In the mean time, the cops know where the cameras are in their areas. If they are responding to something, it's not that difficult to flip on their lights when they know they are coming into camera range.
              Going too far is half the pleasure of not getting anywhere

              Comment


              • #8
                Well In DC, (I am MPD)if you are not on an emergency/priority call, do not speed pass the speed camera or red light camera. Officials will hunt you down and hold you liable.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by AgentWD40 View Post
                  The speed camera situation has really gotten out of hand. The Washington post article certainly is not accurate and tries to paint officers as believing they are "above the law." Many officers, including myself have paid the fines, however the issue is that we are getting these tickets and being told to pay them on the way to calls.

                  When someone is stealing your car and you call the police, did you want them to get there fast? Well it is not a "priority" call so we will be driving the speed limit to get there in the middle of the night when there are no cars on the road.

                  How about if you are trying to catch up to a DUI in progress? Cant speed to get there. How about a suspicious call? Oh well.

                  Officers who are on duty should not be forced to pay all these fines. An off duty officer who gets a citiation while in his patrol car is no different than any other citizen and should be expected to pay the fines.

                  I work midnights and have two sets of speed cameras set up in my beat on major roads. I slow down to below the speed limit even on priority calls just because I do not feel like having to deal with the extra paperwork of having to pull my cad history and justify my actions.

                  Cops are not above the law and it is not a professional courtesy issue. It is us trying to do our job and getting to our calls in a timely manner.
                  Couldnt of said it any better +++1

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by AgentWD40 View Post
                    The speed camera situation has really gotten out of hand. The Washington post article certainly is not accurate and tries to paint officers as believing they are "above the law." Many officers, including myself have paid the fines, however the issue is that we are getting these tickets and being told to pay them on the way to calls.

                    When someone is stealing your car and you call the police, did you want them to get there fast? Well it is not a "priority" call so we will be driving the speed limit to get there in the middle of the night when there are no cars on the road.

                    How about if you are trying to catch up to a DUI in progress? Cant speed to get there. How about a suspicious call? Oh well.

                    Officers who are on duty should not be forced to pay all these fines. An off duty officer who gets a citiation while in his patrol car is no different than any other citizen and should be expected to pay the fines.

                    I work midnights and have two sets of speed cameras set up in my beat on major roads. I slow down to below the speed limit even on priority calls just because I do not feel like having to deal with the extra paperwork of having to pull my cad history and justify my actions.

                    Cops are not above the law and it is not a professional courtesy issue. It is us trying to do our job and getting to our calls in a timely manner.
                    Well said, and exactly how I thought about it.....I know theres one on Bell Pre, where is the other one?
                    "Intelligence plus character that is the goal of true education." - Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I recieved my red light ticket already. 100 dollars outta my pocket. Deal is, I was responding quickly to a call where disorderly juveniles have been terrorizing a new neighborhood. It is the ONE trouble house driiving the others up the wall. I was following a vehicle, fumbling with me faulty radio and held a constant speed only to run the redlight .25 seconds into it!

                      Guilty even though the CAD and call history support my side. It certainly was a priority call but it was a call you would be inclined to get to quickly.

                      Whatever. I avoid those lights like the plague.

                      I learned to pull traffic if you run the light. :-p

                      I dont see MoCo FOP suggesting the right choice. Guilty is guilty. The cameras don't lie even if you are in the intersection .25 seconds after it turns red. The department won't stand for it for the same reasons posted above. Get the press on it, they will shame the department and someone will be left to hang. That's us.

                      Comment

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