Dead Officer Signed Red Light Citations

Baltimore police and transportation officials are trying to correct a problem with about 2,000 red light camera citations that may bear the signature of a police officer who is dead.

The problem concerns the sworn statement that appears on the citations confirming a police officer has reviewed the camera images to verify a violation has occurred.

On the citations in question, that signature belongs to Baltimore Officer James Fowler, who was killed in a car accident in Pennsylvania on Sept. 27, I-Team lead investigative reporter Jayne Miller said.

The I-Team was shown one citation that cited the driver of a van for running a red light in the middle of the day in northeast Baltimore. The date of the violation was Jan. 12, 2011.

A retired city officer who didn’t want to be identified told 11 News he’s an acquaintance of the driver who got the violation. He said he recognized Fowler’s name, who he worked with before he retired, and realized Fowler couldn’t have been the one to review the ticket.

A city police representative blamed the problem on a computer glitch, which is the fault of the company that operates the camera system, and he said the problem has been rectified. Letters are being sent to people who got the violation notice.

The Police Department said it does not blanket approve citations, and only the violators got the erroneous copies. A department representative said internal copies show the name of the officer who actually reviewed the violations.

Legal experts said any citations issued after that date bearing Fowler’s signature may be difficult to enforce.

The city’s red light cameras are a reliable revenue source. In January alone, about 9,300 red light citations were mailed to drivers trying to beat the lights, Miller reported.

The citations cost violators about $75.