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DC cop battles city to return US$1.8M in unlawful tickets

Posted Jan 7th 2013 9:15AM

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Washington DC

Like many thousands before him, Sergeant Mark Robinson of the Washington D.C. Metropolitan Police Department was cited for speeding while driving through the District's Third Street Tunnel last fall. But unlike most of the other motorists, Sgt. Robinson contested the ticket and won a refund.

Robinson, a 22-year veteran of the police force, probably considered his citation insignificant compared to the thousands of other speed camera-related tickets he was in the process of fighting. As it turns out, the officer was already embroiled in a campaign to dismiss questionable violations that the District had been handing out illegally. As the law is written, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration regulations require a secondary accuracy ensuring measurement when cameras are used to enforce speed limits (e.g., painted lines on the road to measure distance traveled) – there were, inexplicably, none in the Third Street Tunnel.

According to some investigative work by The Washington Times, 14,167 tickets were issued on that stretch of road bringing in a whopping US$1,814,150 worth of revenue. As the money was collected outside the guideline of the law, Sgt. Robinson maintains that the city is obligated to refund the fines.

Yet, as expected, police administrators and the city have thus far ignored Robinson's pleas and have done nothing. Instead, he's been labeled a whistleblower and some officials have suggested that "corrective and/or disciplinary action" be brought up against him. Sergeant Mark Robinson may have triumphed in one small battle, but his uphill conflict with the District is ongoing and far from over.

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