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City of Harlem to refund speeding fines

Friday, Dec. 20, 2013 5:50 PM
Last updated 8:14 PM
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The city of Harlem will offer full refunds on speeding tickets issued during a 10-month period this year after learning that Harlem police officers wrote tickets using non-certified radar equipment.

According to a statement from the city, Harlem Department of Public Safety Chief Gary Jones learned Thursday that the agency’s radar calibration certification with the Georgia Department of Public Safety had expired Feb. 7. Jones was working to set up the department’s annual radar calibration certification renewal.

About 85 speeding tickets were issued between February and November.

As a result, the city’s license to use radar equipment has been suspended indefinitely by the Georgia Department of Public Safety.

Jones, Culpepper and City Manager Jason Rizner met Friday to review the issue, according to the statement.

“The city certainly acknowledges and apologizes for this serious issue,” Harlem Mayor Bobby Culpepper said. “We are all committed to making this right, and I know Chief Jones is working hard to ensure that all affected individuals are refunded fine amounts and that each driver’s history is cleared of the charges.”

According to the statement, police departments are required by law to submit an annual radar calibration report to the Georgia Department of Public Safety to retain its license. Units are tested by an outside vendor, which then submits a certificate of accuracy to the state agency.

“Although this happened under a previous police administration, I accept responsibility,” Jones said. “I felt that the only ethical and honest response was to notify the public rather than allowing the matter to go forward undetected.”

As of Thursday, all of the department’s radar equipment has been calibrated, and officers will receive remedial training with the equipment. The equipment will not be in used until the city is issued a new license.

People who were issued a ticket during the 10-month period will be contacted via certified letter after Christmas and offered a full refund, according to the statement.

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nocnoc 12/20/13 - 07:13 pm
Remember I said Speed Trap months ago.

Wonder what else the lawyers will find.

CobaltGeorge 12/20/13 - 07:54 pm

just how many more radar equipment being used are also not certified?

harley_52 12/20/13 - 08:33 pm
Exemplary Ethical Behavior... a governmental official.

Hope it rubs off on others, but I have my doubts....

JRC2024 12/21/13 - 12:07 am
Harlem has always been a

Harlem has always been a speed trap. I wish the guy in Wytheville, VA would sent mine back-80 on i77 and not a car around. He was almost asleep in the car and had to strighten up and get right in the seat to get going. I guess one good thing came out of it though. Traverlers was half of State Auto so I switched but then they raised my rates, checked around again and got Safco at half of Travelers.

paladin5 12/21/13 - 02:34 am

A Wrong being made Right with an Ethical Sense of Responsibility....Good Job Chief Jones

dickworth1 12/21/13 - 06:55 am
main point

A wrong that should never happen if the police dept. is doing their job! What about all the citizen that had their insurance rates increase over the oversight? According to state law, unless it has been changed, city and county police must allow you 10 MPH over the speed limit unless you are in a school zone. Also radar can not be use unless the posted speed limit is 35 mph or more.

Riverman1 12/21/13 - 08:23 am
In Contrast

I've told this story before, but it's worth repeating. A friend of mine got a speeding ticket in SC and went to court because it was like 40 in a 35mph zone. He asked to see the calibration form for the radar as they are supposed to be able to produce. The judge quickly told him, "We're not having any of that in here," and fined him. Heh, heh, heh.

Truth Matters
Truth Matters 12/21/13 - 09:37 am
Aiken County, Hiltonia

Aiken County, Hiltonia (Screven County); are you listening?

Truth Matters
Truth Matters 12/21/13 - 09:48 am
RM 1 @ 7:23... I "feel" your

RM 1 @ 7:23...
I "feel" your friend. That nearly mirrors my experience in Aiken County. It was on day of an announced effort to reduce speeders (something I have no problem with and was conscious of the whole time as I drove.)
I was at a complete stop at a traffic light and the officer ticketed me at about 20 yards after I made a left turn. That old car could not have accelerated 15 mph over speed limit at that distance if all passengers had gotten out and pushed it.

Years later it makes a great "guess what happened to me one time" story.

wmplpi 12/21/13 - 06:29 pm
Speed Trap

If only 85 speeding tickets were issued over a 10 month period, I am trying to see where you think this classifies as a speed trap. That is a little over 8 tickets a month. I don't think you know what a speed trap is. I know towns that will write that many in a day.

albertoli 12/21/13 - 11:45 pm
speeding is for people who don't think

Speeding is for people who don't think, or have respect for the law, or respect for the people who live where they are breaking the law. If you do the math, it gains you nothing to speed unless you are going ten over for hundreds of miles, and then it is a miniscule gain compared to the repercussions. Proud of the Harlem police chief for doing the right thing. I live in Harlem and there are constantly idiots on my rear in town when I do the speed limit. I have respect for the people who live there, who have the expectation that they will be safe walking and crossing the street with their children and their pets. This goes for anywhere. When you speed you do nothing but endanger those around you. By the way, the speed limit isn't just a suggestion, it's the law. When you speed you tell everyone that you are a moron.

bclicious 12/22/13 - 11:45 am
It's not Chief Jones fault

Hey guys; Chief Jones walked into this situation in late April. This is a David Sward (old Chief) issue. That guy was a walking nightmare! However; Chief Jones is excellent, and even the best leader can only do so much when you are in damage control mode. In other words, the entire department was in disarray when he took over.

As for the paperwork and effort, it will be a lot of money and man-hours.

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