LAFAYETTE, La. – A Louisiana program that uses vans manned with cameras to nab speeding drivers isn't just catching civilians.
Police, deputies and firefighters were among the drivers in 50 government vehicles from throughout Acadiana Parish that have been issued violation notices in recent months through the SafeSpeed Lafayette program. Government officials and employees also were caught speeding.
Former Commissioner of Higher Education Joseph Savoie admitted that he was the driver responsible for a violation notice being sent to the Louisiana Board of Regents in mid-November.
Savoie received a $50 ticket for traveling 58 miles per hour in a 45 miles per hour zone. Savoie said he was in a hurry, but was impressed by the system's efficiency and never doubted that he was behind the wheel of the cited vehicle.
Chad Sonnier, fire chief for the Iberia Parish Fire Protection District One, also admitted that he was driving a fire district vehicle that was recorded going 61mph in a 55-mph zone.
That citation was dismissed after Sonnier proved he was responding to an emergency call.
According to data provided by Lafayette Consolidated Government's Traffic and Transportation Department, four notices were sent to the Lafayette Police Department, one of which was dismissed.
In the other three cases, drivers were recorded traveling 67 mph in a 50-mph zone, 72 miles per hour in a 50-mph zone and 62 miles per hour in a 50-mph zone.
Of the three officers cited, none were responding to calls, according to Lafayette Police Chief Jim Craft, who said each officer had to pay for their ticket and were then subjected to disciplinary action.
"If they were en route to a call, then we try to cut them some slack," Craft said, adding that that isn't the case if the officer was off-duty or driving during the normal course of the day.
Fourteen violation notices were sent to the Lafayette Parish Sheriff's Office. Of those, six were dismissed. Lt. Craig Stansbury, spokesman for the sheriff's office, said six citations were paid for by the deputies and four were found to be responding to calls.
Other government entities with vehicles ticketed included the city of Broussard, St. Landry Parish Sheriff's Office, the St. Martin Parish Sheriff's Office and the Iberia Parish Sheriff's Office.