Citizen drivers aren’t the only ones seeing camera flashes in their rearview mirrors when they run red lights. Cops are caught going through the lights as well, sometimes without flashers on, which some say is a violation that merits a ticket that officers are allegedly getting out of paying.
According to WUSA-TV, more than a dozen violations of red lights by D.C. Metropolitan Police appear to have been dismissed. Videos it obtained by the news station show both marked and unmarked police vehicles passing through red lights without their flashers on. It is unclear if sirens were running because the videos did not have sound.
The department’s policy allows police to safely run red lights in an emergency situation if they use a “bell, siren or exhaust whistle.” What’s more, another more detailed policy requires they “open both front windows,” “stop before entering the intersection when facing a red signal” and have “emergency warning devices activated.” One would assume that this latter requirement would include flashing lights.
While the news station identified many cases where the tickets were thrown out, it did note five instances where fines were upheld for red light violations. Fines for red light camera tickets in D.C. cost $150.
Police spokeswoman Gwendolyn Crump told WUSA-TV that she wasn’t aware of the city throwing out any tickets based on the department’s request.
After police chief Cathy Lanier would not grant WUSA’s multiple requests for interviews, its reporter Russ Ptacek met her on the street.
“I’m not going to stand here and argue with you,” Lanier told Ptacek upon questioning. “You’re making a fool of yourself.”
Lanier told WUSA that its officers have to follow the department’s rules.
The D.C. Metropolitan Police Department did not immediately return TheBlaze’s request for comment regarding its policy to run red lights and what it does when such policies are violated and tickets are issued by the cameras.
D.C. Council Member Tommy Wells, who is on the city’s Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety, told Ptacek if police aren’t following their own rules, it could cause safety problems.
“There’s an expectation of public safety, that it’s not just trying to solve a crime or respond to an emergency. You don’t want to create another emergency along the way. There’s a reason why there’s rules against this,” Wells told WUSA.
Reviewing one video, Wells said, “Wow, there’s pedestrians out there. They did not stop. They did not have any lights on.”
Watch WUSA’s report, which includes footage of some of the violations:
DC police aren’t the only ones accused of wrongly running red lights and skipping out on fines.
The Orlando Sun Sentinel reported a couple years ago that officers in several cities were let off the hook for red light violations both on official and unofficial business. Some of its officers did receive written reprimands but not monetary fines.
WVEC-TV out of Virginia Beach, Virginia, reported in February that it found police officers and city employees skipping out on red light ticket fines.
Instead, the city of Chesapeake’s human resources director told WVEC that they choose to discipline employees caught running reds instead of fining them.
“It could be a written reprimand, it could be a suspension or a demotion or it could be a termination depending on the circumstances,” DL Mears said.
Update: A spokesperson from D.C. police told TheBlaze that emergency vehicles may pass through red lights or stop signs with the siren activated after they have slowed down. The spokesperson acknowledge that Chief Lanier reviewed 14 tickets highlighted by WUSA and found some violations of policy.