May 28th, 2024

Police dealing with fewer traffic violations since introduction of high visibility photo radar

By BRENDAN MILLER on April 18, 2024.

A high visibility police vehicle monitor traffic along Police Point Drive on Wednesday. According to the city's 2023 financial report, fines and tickets were down $850,000 from the previous year.--NEWS PHOTO BRENDAN MILLER

bmiller@medicinehatnews.com

According to the city’s 2023 financial report, fines, ticket and licensing revenue last year was down $850,000 from the previous year, and about $1.5 million off budget expectations.

The report outlines that main drivers in the category, which includes licensing and fine revenue, was $930,000 less in revenue “due to increased high visibility markings on vehicles and equipment.”

“We put these high visibility wrappers on our vehicles and I think it has reduced our revenues.” says Insp. Brent Secondiak. “Anything we can do to slow people down to save people’s lives or prevent injury is a good thing. So if that’s working and effective, we’re good with it.”

Since 2016, photo radar fine revenue is recorded in the city’s operational budget, rather than the police budget after public criticism that police service was benefiting directly from the practice.

“Photo readers have a bit of a bad reputation about being a cash cow,” says Secondiak. “I have a different opinion on that from my experience.

“I think if you’ve seen people hurt or injured or killed in a motor vehicle collision with a direct result of speed, you want people to slow down, however that comes into play.”

City Hall says the drop in revenue and other factors required it to use $3.6 million more than planned in reserve cash, and $15 million in total, to balance the budget.

However, police say the pandemic also limited the number of traffic stops officers conducted and have since been able to conduct more traffic stops.

“So I think the fine revenue will go up slightly,” explains Secondiak. “But again, that’s not our intent ever. It’s about public safety and slowing people down. So we’re hopeful that that’s coming into effect.”

Other sources of fine revenue that do flow directly to the police budget showed total revenue was actually nine per cent higher, or $397,000, due to more information requests, cadet training and provincial investigation reimbursements.

— with files from Colin Gallant

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