No special treatment: Calgary cracks down on police breaking road rules

Calgary's police commission is cracking down on law enforcement officers who disobey the rules of the road, with new penalties and tighter guidelines.

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The Calgary Police Service has introduced a demerit points system for officers who are caught on photo radar breaking traffic rules, as well as better education and in-car technology to monitor how officers are driving.

Calgary Police Chief Roger Chaffin said his officers aren't "comfortable" with the changes, but he acknowledged they're necessary. "Accountability for policing in North America, and particularly in Calgary, is high," Chaffin told CTV Calgary on Tuesday.

The move comes after a CTV Calgary investigation uncovered more than 1,600 incidents of police vehicles involved in traffic offences, from 2012 to 2014. Offences ranged from speeding to running red lights. In more than half the cases, the police vehicles involved did not have their emergency lights on. CTV Calgary learned that only 24 tickets were issued in relation to the offences, and in total, only six of those tickets were paid.

On Tuesday, Police Commission vice-chair Howard Shikaze said he was "not surprised" by the violations, but he still felt they were "something that normally would have been caught."

The commission launched an audit as a result of the CTV Calgary investigation, and came back with a slew of changes to the city's Automated Traffic Enforcement program, in an effort to address officer-related violations.

"We're participating in the public process to hold our members accountable," Shikaze told CTV Calgary.

The changes include:

  • An internal demerit points system
  • Standardized terminology
  • Training and education for offenders
  • Accountability and deadlines
  • New in-car technology
  • An appeal process for officers

Chaffin said the demerit points, which can add up to a suspension, are an effective way to enforce the rules with officers.

"Those demerits help us change behaviour," he said.

In addition to the accountability changes, about 20 per cent of unmarked police vehicles have been equipped with brake-monitoring technology, so supervisors can identify when an officer is driving fast. Supervisors can then contact the officer directly by phone to offer "real-time feedback," Chaffin said.

"It's like your supervisor is sitting beside you, saying hey, slow down," he added.

Police are also cracking down on officers who register their personal vehicles to the Calgary Police Service address, to dodge photo radar tickets.

"There is no getting away with summons on your personal vehicles," Chaffin said.

With files from CTV Calgary



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