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'I don't see why the public should pay': City councillor responds to speeding Toronto police cars

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Several city councillors say it's important for the Toronto Police Service (TPS) to "get to the bottom of" how many automated speeding or red light camera tickets its officers get – and how many have no lawful excuse.

Toronto-Danforth Coun. Paula Fletcher says she was "flummoxed" by the CTV News story that unearthed pictures of police vehicles speeding or running red lights, and said the TPS has to come clean on which of them are justified and which are not.

"How many of those tickets are legitimate because they are going to an emergency, and how many were just because there was sloppy driving or speeding? I don't see why the public should pay for sloppy driving or speeding because nobody pays for my ticket," Fletcher said in an interview.

City data shows that, in 26 months, TPS vehicles were issued 1,038 speeding tickets and 164 red light tickets. The police force produced copies of 435 tickets in response to a freedom of information request CTV News made in 2021.

Some tickets appear to include snapshots of emergencies in progress, when police are legally allowed to break traffic rules during their duties, including one case of a police car following an ambulance through an intersection.

But others are less clear, including a special constable car ticketed for speeding outside a school during pickup. Several speeding tickets were also issued to TPS parking enforcement vehicles, which typically do not need to speed to ticket-parked cars.

In one case, a parking enforcement vehicle was ticketed $227.50 for going 65 km/h in a 40 km/h zone. The same vehicle received another ticket for $95 two days later for going 45 km/h in a 30 km/h zone.

The TPS has said its officers are asked to justify the ticket, and if they can't, they could be docked pay. But when CTV News asked how often that happens and how many tickets have no lawful excuse, the service couldn't say.

In the city data, the highest number of speeding tickets in any spot was 55, issued at Beverley and D'Arcy streets downtown, located a few blocks west of the 52 Division.

That intersection is in Coun. Dianne Saxe's ward, who said she immediately phoned the 52 Division's complaints coordinator to ask why.

"From what the police tell me, almost all the tickets issued in my ward at Beverley and D'Arcy were issued to police officers who were in the course of their duties accelerating to catch people, offenders. They tell me that is a very high priority because of the schools that are located right there," Saxe said.

The city's 75 cameras have also caught TTC buses and city trucks, which have prompted new measures to track possible problem drivers in those departments.

Saxe said the city should take speeding very seriously and is pushing for more cameras to slow down speeding drivers and a faster administrative program to speed up the paperwork.

She said the tickets to police are a sign the cameras are working correctly because they ticket every car that breaks the rules, even if the driver is a police officer. 

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