By on June 13, 2009

The Winnipeg, Canada, Police Service has been caught a second time underreporting the number of accidents at red light camera intersections in order to make the lucrative program appear effective. The Winnipeg City Auditor was first to note the police tactic in a 2006 audit report. This week, the Winnipeg Sun found the police are still using the same technique to protect a program which generated $14,086,804 CAD in revenue for 2008.

According to the 2008 Photo Enforcement Program Annual Report, accidents went from 161 in 2002 — before cameras were installed — to 101 in 2007, an impressive 37.3 percent reduction. The figures considered the first twelve locations where red light cameras were installed. The Sun obtained data from the monopoly provider of insurance cover, Manitoba Public Insurance (MPI), and found the real accident figure for 2007 was 168, not 101. According to the more reliable MPI data, accidents increased significantly year after year since 2002, only dropping in 2007 as traffic volumes just began a sharp decline.

Officials frequently dismiss such increases by claiming only the number of insignificant “fender benders” changed. The 2006 audit report included data proving the greatest increase in accidents actually occurred in the most serious category of collisions.

Winnipeg is not the first police agency to be caught fudging photo enforcement figures. In 2006, the UK Statistics Commission, an independent government agency, issued a statement condemning what it called the “known undercounting of road accidents in police statistics.”

The board had been following research published in the British Medical Journal that showed a significant discrepancy between actual hospital records and injury statistics provided by police agencies that were being used to report a similar 30 percent reduction in serious injury accidents where speed cameras were used. The hospital data showed a slight increase in the number of injuries.

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11 Comments on “Winnipeg Police Caught Manipulating Accident Data. Again....”

  • avatar

    The saddest part about stories like this is how the people of the offending city just sit back and take it. But I guess that’s just the complacent world we live in. Tax me and fine me all you want, just don’t bother me while American Idol is on…

  • avatar

    The government is just another Mafia- except without the class, and with more money. When I see a cop, I think “low level street thug”.
    I like the Sgt. Pepper photo, tho.

  • avatar

    Honestly, I feel sorry for the cops. They’re really put between a rock and a hard place.

    I’m sure they didn’t decide to become a cop just to hand out citations left and right for things like seat belt violations and burned out license plate bulbs.

    In my state, California, since it became obvious that the state wasn’t going to be able to sustain the current level of spending, the cops have become VERY visible. Unfortunately, in the wrong way.

    I was sitting in a parking lot during a 30 minute phone call and witnessed one cop ticket eight people. You might say, “That’s not possible. He couldn’t get back into position, pull them over, and write the citations fast enough.” You would be right if I didn’t witness him pull people over TWO AT A TIME.

    I don’t know if they’re getting squeezed by their superiors, anxious to show that a well-paid (average cop here makes >$70k a year) and staffed police force is a revenue producing function of government, or if it was the police themselves seeing the writing on the wall.

    What’s sad is this behavior is going to hurt relations between cops and common citizens for a long time to come. It wasn’t that long ago that I was pleased to see a cruiser roll by. Now, it’s like I’m in Mexico — calculating in my head how much an interaction will cost me. In Mexico the process is less convoluted: you pay the officer directly. Here, it has to be collected in the form of bond first with others (state, county, and local interests) taking their cut.

    Ultimately, it’s the cops protecting their jobs and their paycheck.

    They’re like everyone else right now in just trying to keep their heads above water.

  • avatar

    Police Menstrual Cyndrome: The period at the end of the month when cops go bezerk and give a ridiculously high number of tickets to fill their quotas.

    ConspicuousLurker said it. There is lots of revenue to be made from this business, and governments won’t let it go easily. Not in such times. And cops won’t let go either, so that the governments will keep turning a blind eye to their perceived ‘inadequacies’.

  • avatar

    I live in Winnipeg. They caught me speeding through a school zone on a Sunday at 4pm. Now I drive less than or on the speed limit and the people behind me are going insane. This place is a dump anyways and the roads are terrible so I have to drive slow. The worst speeders continue to be SUVs and trucks. You know, the guys with poor brakes.

  • avatar

    town near where I live places one LEO on top of a bridge and lasers cars going by from behind, while 5-7 cars are on the freeway pulling them over. It’s an amazingly efficient operation. Makes up something like 30% of the towns revenue.

  • avatar

    My mother comes from a small town, pop. 1200 which by my last count, has 12 cop cars, and more than 12 cops. Guess what their top revenue source is ?

  • avatar

    I don’t know where Woodlands County is, but it ain’t anywhere near Winnipeg.

  • avatar

    Photo changed.

  • avatar
    Aloysius Vampa

    This kind of stuff really makes my blood boil.

  • avatar

    @ ConspicuousLurker

    Yes, this is the thin edge of the wedge towards something close to total social dissolution. When the agents of the state are regarded as positively inimical by the general populace, one suspects that some very bad things are in store, indeed.

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