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11/23/2005
Canadian Police Turning to Tickets for Profit
Edmonton and Calgary, Canada are both looking at traffic fines as a means of raising revenue.

Calgary police car
The police and city council in both Edmonton and Calgary, Canada are looking at traffic fines as a convenient means of raising revenue.

The scandal-plagued Edmonton Police Service (EPS) is petitioning the city council to spend an expected citation windfall on hiring new officers. This year the force will generate an extra $1.3 million CAD in fine revenue, primarily from red light camera enforcement. The 11,000 photo tickets -- worth $3.1 million -- the police are on track to issue mark an increase of one thousand over last year. A recent hike in the cost of a ticket from $287 to $69 has also boosted returns.

In a meeting today, some on the city council opposed the idea of funneling money back into EPS, saying the police should not issue more fines to improve their own budget.

"It's basically back-door budgeting," City Councillor Mike Nickel said, according to the Edmonton Journal. "Traffic fines are a form of tax and it should not be within the power of a civic department to impose extra taxation. That's the responsibility of elected officials."

In Calgary, the city council is telling police that they need to issue an extra million in tickets each year to help balance the budget. By a 9-6 vote the council demanded the additional traffic tickets be written by police officers as an alternative to a proposed 5.4 property tax hike. Automated camera tickets already account for one-fifth of the entire city police budget.

The Calgary Police Association is strongly against the idea. "The reality is, if you're told by the end of the month you have to have 'x amount' of tickets and you've got some down time, odds are you're going to set up a radar trap as opposed to cruising a neighbourhood looking for people that are breaking into houses," Association president Al Koenig explained to the CBC.

Source: Red lights mean extra green for coffers (Edmonton Journal (Canada), 11/23/2005)

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