HAINES CITY – As the enforcement officer for Haines City Police Department’s red light camera program, Tim Glover said he’s written citations to friends, relatives, ambulance drivers and even other cops.
But until now, he’d never faced having to write a ticket to himself.
“That was the most expensive Cuban sandwich I’ve ever bought,” Glover said, referencing the lunch trip that led to his ticket.
At the time, Glover didn’t even know it happened, he said.
“When I saw the video, I saw the marked car and knew it was going to be me or one of my fellow officers,” he said.
He watched again as the car rolled through the red light at Old Polk City Road in Haines City. When he zeroed in on the patrol car’s unit number, he said, his immediate thought was “Ut-oh.”
“I got up and walked out to the parking lot and looked at my car, and I said, ‘Holy smoke, it was me.’”
Glover, a 30-veteran of the Polk County Sheriff’s Office before he retired six years ago and joined Haines City, said he knew what he had to do.
“There wasn’t any doubt when I saw it,” he said. “I had to take responsibility for it.”
Acting Police Chief Jay Hopwood said he wasn’t surprised by Glover’s honesty.
“I’ve known Tim since we worked at the jail together in the 1980s,” said Hopwood, who had worked at the Polk County Sheriff’s Office and later at Winter Haven Police Department. “The integrity he has, that shows me the type of person he is. He’s not going to try to hide anything. The honesty he shows in his job – it’s always been there.
“Would it have been easy for someone in that position just to erase it, which can be done?” he asked. “Maybe. But Tim’s not going to ruin a reputation that he’s had for more than 30 years.”
Hopwood said another officer actually wrote Glover’s ticket.
“Certainly, he couldn’t write it himself,” he said.
Lakeland Police Department, which also operates a red-light camera program, has had to write a few tickets to officers when they’ve rolled through red lights, said Sgt. Gary Gross, the department’s spokesman.
“It’s happened, but it’s very rare,” he said. “When it does, they get a ticket and they pay it.”
Glover said he remembers driving through the intersection at about noon Sept. 8, but didn’t realize he was running a red light.
“There was a large box truck in front of me,” he said, “and I just drove on through behind the truck. It was just me in a hurry to get back to doing what I was supposed to be doing. I fell into that rut of follow the leader instead of looking at the light. I made a left with the truck, and the rest is history.”
Glover said he’s paid the $158 citation, including the $7.90 fee for using his credit card, but the ramifications didn’t stop there.
Last week, Sgt. Isaac Jackson issued him a written reprimand for not exercising good judgment when using a department vehicle on duty.
“You are a good officer and I hope this letter will be received in the spirit of its intentions, as a learning tool,” Jackson wrote.
Glover summed up the infraction a bit more succinctly: “I wasn’t looking at the light, and that’s what causes accidents. It was just stupid.”
— Suzie Schottelkotte can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 863-533-9070. Follow her on Twitter @southpolkscene.