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Former Officer Claims Radar Guns Giving Unreliable Speeds

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COLLIN COUNTY (CBSDFW.COM) – It’s the one argument you never win with a police officer. If the radar gun says you were speeding, well it’s pretty hard to dispute.

A former McKinney officer claims some drivers got speeding tickets they didn’t deserve. He blames the department’s equipment.

Radar guns rely on technology that hasn’t changed much since they we’re introduced 40 years ago. McKinney Police Department officials insist theirs are as modern and accurate as anyone’s, despite the claims of a former officer.

About 4,500 motorists receive speeding tickets each year in McKinney.

Former police officer Aaron Smith believes some of those tickets were based on inaccurate radar readings. And he should know. For part of his nine years on the force, Smith installed the radars in the department’s fleet.

“I noticed as I was driving one of the Crown Vic’s back I started to see oncoming traffic coming at 120 miles an hour,” he recalled.

Smith says he noticed back in September that some patrol cars were missing a vehicle speed sensor cable that comes with the radar guns. He showed CBS 11 News an email he sent to his supervisors.

He said, “I didn’t think it was it was right ethically to be writing tickets to somebody that may or may not deserve them.”

Smith said the speed sensor cable prevents moving patrol cars from miscalculating speeds.

McKinney police officials said radar guns don’t need the cable and explained that officers are trained to compensate for it. They even allowed us to see how their system works just fine without it.

McKinney police Assistant Chief Joe Ellenburg said, “I’ve spent 22 years in this career I would never allow faulty equipment in the field.”

Still, Ellenburg said the department will spend $3,000 buying the cables for some 20 patrol cars that don’t currently have them.
The former officer who is speaking out believes that’s an admission of a problem. He said definitively, “I can tell you that citizens got tickets they didn’t deserve.”

Smith says the issue is one of the reasons he resigned from the department in December.

McKinney Police Department officials say they are confident no one was given a citation unjustly and that the concerns are unwarranted.

(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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