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Photo radar was effective, says RCMP veteran running for BC Liberals

During the televised leaders' debate Christy Clark dismissed the idea of reintroducing photo radar to discourage speeding drivers, but a veteran police officer running on her BC Liberal team has said he supports using the technology.

"I think photo radar was effective," said Mike Morris, the BC Liberal candidate in Prince George-Mackenzie.

The NDP introduced photo radar in the 1990s and the BC Liberals dismantled the program after they formed the government in 2001.

All four leaders in the April 29 debate responded to a viewer's question by saying they would not reintroduce photo radar, and Clark was particularly strong in her opposition. "The NDP brought it in," said Clark. "It was a mistake. It was a tax grab for the government and I will not bring it back."

A few days earlier, in an interview alongside Justice Minister Shirley Bond in their shared Prince George campaign office, Morris expressed a contrary view rooted in the 32 years he worked for the RCMP. He was in charge of policing in the north for the last nine years of his career.

"My own personal thought's that the complexities of policing have increased significantly since I became a cop in 1973," he said. "For example, impaired driving now takes hundreds of percents more resources than it did back in 1974 to investigate and to prosecute, so those are the kinds of things that really impact on it."

He referenced a study he commissioned in the early 2000s with Darryl Plecas, the University of the Fraser Valley criminologist who is now the BC Liberal candidate in Abbotsford South, looking at how the changing complexity of policing was affecting service delivery.

"The more we can do to focus our policing resources on the actual physical work it takes to do that job, versus something that, you know technology's available right now that can monitor vehicles and monitor speed and monitor everything that vehicles do," he said. "I think we have to take advantage of some of these technologies, yeah."

Conservative leader John Cummins called photo radar a revenue grab and Green Party leader Jane Sterk said having a higher police presence is a better way to address speeding.

NDP leader Adrian Dix used the opportunity to talk about the importance of red light cameras, a jab at Clark who the Vancouver Sun reported had driven on a dare through a red light with her 11-year-old son and the reporter in the car.

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee's Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria. Find him on Twitter or reach him here.

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