D.C. cops get tickets from automated cameras while rushing to emergencies


The Associated Press

WASHINGTON — Automated speed and red-light cameras might be catching traffic scofflaws, but they're also busting police rushing to respond to emergencies, a union representing officers says.

District of Columbia officers are spending months writing letters in an attempt to get out of the tickets from the cameras, which snap pictures of speeders and those running red lights, said Kristopher Baumann, chairman of the D.C. chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police.

"It's just an enormous waste of resources and an enormous waste of time," Baumann told The Washington Times.

To fight a ticket, officers often must get a letter from their commanders, as well as radio logs and other records to prove they were responding to a legitimate emergency. Some are still called into court.

Other cities with automated cameras don't require officers to go to court. In Baltimore, police union officials said tickets are dismissed in-house after officers spend a few minutes gathering necessary evidence to prove they were not at fault.

The union said it wants the city to develop an in-house plan to deal with the problem. But D.C. police Capt. Melvin Gresham said that while officers are sometimes ticketed during emergencies, the cases are dismissed. He said he hasn't received complaints.

"We have had individual instances where officers on legitimate calls for emergency services were captured by photo red-light cameras, and as long as they can justify their actions, then more than likely the infraction will be dismissed," Gresham said.

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