I-Team: Mayor's motorcade caught on tape

The ABC7 Eyewitness News I-Team learned speed cameras regularly catch the mayor's motorcade running red and speeding.
May 7, 2014 7:27:23 PM PDT
Red lights? Speed limits? They're apparently not a problem if you are driving the mayor of the city of Chicago.

Despite Rahm Emanuel's contention that red light and speed cameras are "all about safety," the ABC7 Eyewitness News I-Team learned those same cameras regularly catch the mayor's motorcade running red and speeding.

The city's website catalogs all red light and speed camera violations regardless of who you are.

The I-Team ran the plates of the two city vehicles in which Emanuel is chauffeured around Chicago.

Since 2012, the cameras have caught the mayor's motorcade speeding near schools and parks or running red lights nearly two dozen times.

The unblinking eyes of Chicago's red light and speed cameras miss nothing.

Last year alone, they ticketed more than 622,000 drivers, fining them more than $71 million.

"This is supposed to work as a deterrent," Emanuel said in Nov. 2011.

The cameras may deter drivers worried about steep fines but ABC7 Eyewitness News has found they're not slowing down Emanuel's security detail.

The mayor rides around Chicago in a two-car convoy, and 20 times in less than two-and-a-half years city cameras have caught the vehicles running red or speeding through the very school and park areas the cameras were meant to protect.

In February, cameras caught both of the mayor's vehicles speeding near Gompers Park. They were going more than 10 miles per hour over the limit.

The next month, a camera clocked one of the SUVs driving with its police lights on, going 18 miles an hour over the speed limit in a school zone. The mayor wasn't even in town that day. He was down in Texas at the South by Southwest Festival.

Last April, a red light camera on Stony Island captured both of the mayor's vehicles running a red light. Was there some city emergency?

Not necessarily: That was around the same time Mayor Emanuel watched a high school baseball game in the area.

Since 2012, the city's website reports the mayoral motorcade racked up 17 red light tickets and three speed warnings, in addition to a few parking tickets.

Mike Brockway has helped hundreds of people fight tickets via his website "theexpired meter.com."

"That was part of the law: Slow people down to have a safer Chicago and he's not adhering to that - and I think that's not fair," Brockway said.

On three occasions the mayor's convoy had so many unpaid tickets, city computers flagged the vehicles for seizure.

That's right: City records reveal the mayor's vehicles were eligible for "the Boot."

ABC7's Ben Bradley: "They took your car, but they don't take the mayor's car?"

Owner of impounded vehicle: "The mayor's got clout, I don't."

Outside traffic ticket court a ticketed driver said, "I've actually gotten a ticket right at that very intersection."

Some say the mayor's trail of tickets completely contradict his 2011 claims: "I have a responsibility to protect our kids."

"It's hypocritical, completely hypocritical. It's all about revenue," said Brad Predergast, a ticketed driver.

The city's website shows all of the tickets were "dismissed." No one paid a dime in fines.

If you racked up the same amount of violations: it would've cost you at least $1,700, more if you got booted.

Monday night, Mayor Emanuel is responding to our report, instructing his bodyguards to stop speeding and running red lights.

Spokesperson Bill McCaffrey tells Eyewitness News, "the mayor believes in ensuring safety and that everyone ought to slow down and observe safety rules, including the police vehicles in which he travels."

The mayor's office says from time to time it may be necessary for the "mayor's safety" to violate traffic laws but didn't address specific violations spotlighted in our story.


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