WATERLOO REGION — Twelve red-light camera tickets earned by Waterloo Regional Police officers in 2012 for running lights without following protocol have resulted in discipline, according to a recent report.
Investigations into the tickets were initiated after the infractions came to the attention of Chief Matt Torigian.
Six tickets resulted in notes on officers’ records, five were dealt with through agreed upon Police Services Act reprimands, and one was dealt with through an agreed upon forfeiture of vacation.
“It only takes one mistake to create a tragedy, so that’s why we are vigilant and diligent,” Torigian said.
None of the infractions resulted in collisions, Torigian said.
Under the Highway Traffic Act, emergency vehicles, including police cars, must stop before entering an intersection on a red light, engage their sirens and lights and proceed if the stop is clear.
Breaking the rules would land the owner of the vehicle a ticket.
In the case of a police vehicle, taxpayers foot the bill. A red light ticket costs about $325.
Several options are available under the Police Services Act to deal with officers who earned the tickets, Torigian said.
Options include informal resolutions agreed-upon between administration and the offending officer.
“The fundamental rule is that they must abide by the Highway Traffic Act like anybody else,” said Police Services Board Chair Tom Galloway. “They just can’t go flying through and t-bone somebody.
“Whether it’s a red light infraction or it’s an illegal turn or whatever else, they are expected to abide, and the red light cameras are fairly unforgiving.”
The Region of Waterloo has red-light cameras at 16 intersections in the municipality. Cameras were first installed in 2005.
Torigian said there’s been a conscious effort to remind police of the rules.
“We’ve communicated it very well within the organization,” he said. “Everybody understands what’s behind this.”
The red-light ticket information is detailed in a recent police annual report — the first time the information has been available in such a public format.
Torigian said it’s part of police efforts toward transparency, but not an attempt to deal with negative attention resulting from recent high-profile hearings against a group of local officers.
“We’re not going to hide it,” Torigian said. “I think as an organization those were very high profile and caused all of us and are causing all of us some concern, but at the same time I think we’ve turned the corner on those given how dated they are.”