World & Nation

Denver police were traffic-ticket scofflaws -- but not anymore

We’ve all seen it while sitting behind the wheel: A cop breezes up to a traffic light, obviously not on an emergency call, flashes the cherry top and saunters through an intersection as if he or she owns the place. When the traffic camera snaps, the officer simply ignores the ticket.

Well, not anymore, at least not in Denver.

City police officers on routine duty there will have to do what the law requires -- and what every other motorist on the road must do: Challenge the violation or pay the fine.

Under the old rule, officers didn’t have to pay their fines, but they would receive an oral reprimand after the first ticket and a written reprimand after a second. There is no change to the policy that leads to the cancellation of tickets issued to cops responding to emergencies.


“The change in policy was made by the chief, and the officers will have to comply with that,” John White, a Denver police detective in the public affairs unit, told the Los Angeles Times. “They need to take care of the red light photo radar tickets received on routine patrol.”

The new rule applies to all on-duty city employees. But patrol officers have received particular attention, White said, after many motorists complained about police dodging tickets that everyone else had to pay.

The change was prompted after a local TV station reported that the tickets were widely ignored by people driving city vehicles. From 2009 to mid-2012, 607 tickets were unpaid. Police vehicles accounted for 458 of those.

Under the new policy, cops will not only have to pay for their tickets, but will receive an oral reprimand for a third offense and a write-up for a fourth. A fifth ticket could result in pay being docked eight hours.


White says that, although the change wasn’t necessarily a victory for the little guy, it evened the score on the road. “It’s an indication just like our ordinary citizens, officers need to be aware of our speed limits and they need to follow the law.”


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