More red light, speeding cameras mean more complaints against Ottawa police

Driving-related internal complaints about the Ottawa Police Service (OPS) are on the rise this year, according to city staff, due to an increase in the number of automated speed enforcement and red light cameras being deployed in the city.

A report presented to the Ottawa Police Services Board Monday shows there have been 39 internal complaints about red light camera infractions within the first six months of this year. There were 23 such infractions reported in the same time period last year, a 69.5 per cent increase.

The report also shows that in the first half of this year, there were 55 internal complaints related to automated speed enforcement camera tickets, a 34 per cent increase compared to the same period last year.

The board receives quarterly updates on the complaints report under the Police Services Act.

The red light camera and automated speed enforcement infractions, as well as motor vehicle collisions involving police, are listed as internal complaints, which are launched at the discretion of the Ottawa police chief. 

“The key driver of the increase in Driving Related Internal Complaints is attributed to the number of automated speed enforcement and red-light camera infractions, which continue to rise with the implementation of more cameras throughout the city,” wrote city staff in the report. 

There were also 50 complaints related to motor vehicle collisions involving police officers, marking a 19 per cent increase over the first six months of last year.

Two Ottawa police vehicles pictured in July 2023. (Sara Frizzell/CBC)

“Every time a ticket or infraction [involving a police officer] — be it red light or speeding — comes to our office, we do have a triage sort of process of understanding what the [officer] was doing at the time,” Chief Eric Stubbs said on Monday.

“There’s different priority calls.… Often there’s calls for service that perhaps don’t justify lights and sirens. There’s some that there was some urgency to it, so [officers] are trying to get there as fast as they can.” 

Stubbs said a determination is made on whether to initiate an internal complaint or not. 

He added that officers who break the rules of the road are expected to pay their own tickets. 

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