Radar testing accurate, say Calgary police after CBC News probe
'Tried-and-true' tuning fork method still mandated by Crown in Alberta
If you were hoping to toss out your Calgary speeding tickets after a CBC News investigation into whether police radar equipment in Canada is accurately calibrated — not so fast!
The report found that police forces across Canada using the same radar equipment have different testing routines.
It also revealed that several have done away with the traditional tuning-fork method, where a piece of steel with two prongs is struck against a surface, resonating at a constant pitch that mimics the reflected pulse of a moving vehicle.
But the Calgary Police Service (CPS) still tests its radar with tuning forks — and officials stand by the method's accuracy.
"I'm very comfortable knowing that the people that we're stopping for speeding are actually the people that are speeding, and the speeds are accurate," said traffic section Staff Sgt. Paul Stacey.
While most Canadian jurisdictions also continue to use tuning forks to ensure radar devices are properly calibrated, the Ontario Provincial Police dropped the test more than a decade ago, in part over doubts about its necessity.
In Calgary, the tuning-fork test is still done by every police officer before every speed monitoring shift, Stacey said.
"We were directed by our Crown counsel to maintain using the tuning forks, even though the manufacturer at the time told us we didn't have to," he said.
"It's a legal issue that the Crown has to be comfortable with."
The CPS has two tuning forks – one calibrated to simulate the sound wave of a vehicle travelling at 40 km/h and another at 64 km/h. The force also uses an electronic version of the tuning fork that emits a pulse at a simulated vehicle speed of 50 km/h.
"Radar has come a long way, the equipment has come a long way in its sophistication … but one thing is certain, is it still works off the same principle, and the tuning fork is a tried-and-true method," Stacey said.