GPS Tracking Used to Crack Down on Speeding Cops in South Florida

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We’ve all seen it: cops turning on their sirens briefly to run a red light, double parking, parking in the red, or highway patrol flying past your speed-limit abiding vehicle. We may want to give the officer in question the benefit of the doubt, assuming there’s some justification for law-breaking, but don’t feel bad if you assumed the worst.

A recent investigation conducted by the Sun Sentinel revealed nearly 800 officers from several law enforcement agencies driving 90 to 130 mph over the course of 13 months. What makes matters worse, is many of the speeding occurred while the officers were off-duty, commuting to and from work, according the the GPS tracking information gathered from the vehicles. Hypocrisy is a hard pill to swallow, and it can be incredibly frustrating to see a cop doing 90 on the freeway, knowing that you’d get a fat fine for the same behavior.

The eye-opening study provoked police chiefs in South Florida to crack down on speeding cops. “At the very least, the most severe ones are going to lose their [take-home] car right now,” he explained. “If you don’t address the problem and you don’t hand out significant discipline with it … then the message is it’s OK. This is not OK.”

“They need to be held accountable for their actions and disciplined accordingly if they break the law,” said Davie Mayor Judy Paul. Speeding police vehicles have been responsible for at least 320 crashes since 2004, resulting in 19 deaths, seven of whom were officers. The police departments have been rather lax on speeding cops in the past, issuing written reminders to obey traffic laws rather than speeding tickets. “If it can’t be justified, it can’t be tolerated,” Said Broward Sheriff Al Lamberti. “We’re not above the law, and if we’re going to enforce the law, we have to obey it.”

Some of the proposed solutions include ticketing officers who break the law, and programing the GPS tracking devices on the cars to notify the department when the vehicle reaches a certain speed. Sunrise Commissioner Sheila Alu, a state prosecutor, takes a strong stand on the issue. “You can’t hide the fact that some officers are abusing the law,” she said. “We need to get our head out of the sand.”

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Marisa O'Connor

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