Photo-radar cameras catch police officers speeding

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Do they pay up?
azfamily.com

PHOENIX -- Photo radar here in Arizona seems to grow more controversial by the day and now there's a new dilemma.

This one involves uniformed police officers on the job getting "photo flashed."

It seems like you can't drive these days without seeing photo radar. Even police officers are getting "photo flashed" on a regular basis.

3 On Your Side obtained a photo radar ticket showing a Gilbert police officer speeding. In fact, he was busted for driving 46 in a 35-mph zone.

That didn't sit very well with some motorists we talked to.

"If a police officer gets snapped, he should pay the price, pay the ticket," one Valley driver said.

"I think he should go ahead and get the ticket," another said. "We all are citizens. He should be ticketed and pay for it."

"It's unfortunate our officers are being flashed by photo radar," said Gilbert police Sgt. Mark Marino. "It's a fact of life. We're responsible for our driving behaviors. We are responsible for maintaining the speed on the roadways."

As a result of these tickets, officers and their supervisors are now having to spend a lot of time trying to figure out if their speeding was justified.

In Gilbert, the police department puts officers who are caught speeding through what amounts to an internal affairs investigation.

"Every situation is looked at independently from the other and we have to look at each individual situation," Marino said. "We can't make a blanket statement that 'X' speed is unreasonable for all conditions."

Marino says in this case, records show the officer was en route to assist another officer who radioed for help and that his speeding will probably be justified.

But if he wasn't on an important call, not only would he be disciplined, but it would also be up to him to go to court and to take care of the ticket on his own.

Motorists we spoke to thought that was fair.

"If he's driving fast for no reason, then yeah, somebody should pay for it," a driver said.

3 On Your Side spoke with a number of Valley police departments and they all agreed that photo radar flashing officers has become an issue. But all the departments basically have the same policy. They look into every photo radar ticket and if records show the officer was not responding to a call, then that officer is responsible for paying that ticket.