I-Team: Why mayor's motorcade gets a pass

The ABC7 Eyewitness News I-Team uncovers why the mayor's motorcade got a pass despite running red and speeding. (WLS)
May 7, 2014 7:26:43 PM PDT
The ABC7 Eyewitness News I-Team uncovers why the mayor's motorcade got a pass despite running red and speeding.

The number one question heard from ABC7 viewers Monday is why do the mayor and his bodyguards get a pass when hundreds of thousands of drivers don't?

The I-Team's search for answers uncovered a little known program that lets lots of people off the hook and, at least according to City Hall, expands the definition of who has the right to run red.

Monday night Mayor Rahm Emanuel is speaking at a gala at the Palmer House.

But he is not talking about the I-Team investigation that uncovered the mayor, who has long said the same thing about red light and speed cameras.

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

The mayor is driven around Chicago in a two-vehicle convoy that has repeatedly been caught running red and speeding near schools parks.

Since 2012: The city's website reports the mayoral motorcade racked up 17 red light tickets and three speed warnings.

All of the tickets were simply dismissed. No one paid a penny in fines.

Monday night, City Hall is changing its tune, no longer saying "only" police vehicles responding to emergencies or conducting investigations have the right to run red.

Now a city spokesman says ALL Chicago police vehicles automatically have their tickets tossed out, regardless of whether they were responding to an emergency or chauffeuring the mayor.

In a statement, a mayoral spokesman says: "The drivers of these vehicles receive specialized training and take the necessary precautions when driving."

But Chicago police aren't the only ones getting pass on traffic camera tickets.

The I-Team has uncovered a little-known program that allows agencies ranging from suburban law enforcement to railroad police officers to quickly have their traffic camera tickets voided.

As for the mayor, his bodyguards' ticket trouble doesn't end with moving violations.

A picture from the city's website shows last September the SUV the mayor normally rides in received a $50 ticket for parking during street sweeping.

The other vehicle received two parking tickets last year.

None of them were paid prompting city computers to flag both of the mayor's vehicles for seizure.

They never got the boot, but fines are still unpaid, have now doubled, and total $400.

City Hall is not commenting on the I-Team's new revelations on those unpaid parking tickets. As for the red light and speed camera violations, a spokesperson for the mayor said that from time to time, it may be necessary for the mayor's bodyguards to break traffic rules in order to ensure that the mayor can move about the city safely, but the spokesperson said that should be the exception rather than the rule.

Following the report, the mayor said he has instructed his bodyguards to simply slow down.

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