Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Audit reveals problems in radar traffic enforcement

It's amazing what a simple little public information request will turn up sometimes.

In Harris County it turns out that deputy constables in more than one precinct aren't certified to use the radar equipment they're using to issue tickets to motorists. Furthermore, it turns out that the radar devices they've been using weren't all calibrated or maintained properly. (See video.)

Precinct 6 (East Houston) Constable Victor Trevino has halted all radar traffic enforcement until his officers receive proper training. In Precinct 1 (Central Houston) officers are not to issue radar-based traffic tickets until they receive proper training. Precinct 5 (West Houston) Constable Phil Camus has removed about 100 radar devices from patrol cars until they've been recalibrated. Precinct 3 (Southeast Houston) Constable Ken Jones has ordered officers to obtain the proper training and certification before they can issue any more tickets.
"To me, I'm embarrassed."  -- Precinct 5 Constable Phil Camus
The issue becomes bigger than just lost revenue for the county and fines for motorists when you consider that most DWI stops begin with a traffic stop for a transportation code violation, such as speeding or not signalling a lane change. If the officers weren't certified to use the equipment and the equipment wasn't maintained properly, the basis for the stop is called into question.

The larger question is who allowed this to happen? Were the elected constables negligent in their duties? What about administrators who are supposed to keep tabs on deputies? Radar devices and breath test machines -- what else that the state buys can't you trust?

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