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Man who caught speeding Tampa fire PIO says he’s not a vigilante

Another TV reporter fails to challenge man on his own reckless driving

Previous coverage of this story

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There is, of course, much more to the story of the man who blew the whistle on some high speed antics by the acting PIO for Tampa Fire Rescue. Here’s my post from earlier this week questioning WTSP-TV’s failure to, at the very least, focus on Eric Campbell’s own reckless behavior as he chased after an unmarked car Campbell says was traveling in excess of 100 mph. Thanks to my colleague Bill Carey, and some of our readers, I’ve become aware that reporter Chris Trenkmann had done a story on Campbell the day before on WFTS-TV.

This story does a better job of focusing on Campbell’s obsession with speeding cops, but sadly, this one also fails to point out any issues with Campbell’s own speeding. None of the police agencies Campbell targeted responded to the WFTS-TV story. I find it hard to believe that not one law enforcement official was willing to go on camera saying that they want to hear from people who find their officers doing wrong, but that they will have zero tolerance for people who put others in jeopardy by themselves speeding.

Campbell denies he is a vigilante (which is exactly how I described him). He told reporter Trenkmann that we can’t expect the cops to police themselves. Here’s my favorite quote: “Once those enforcing the laws don’t have to obey them, what point is there for the rest of us to obey them?”

Campbell makes statements like that, yet neither reporter challenges him or highlights the fact the Campbell himself was also breaking the same law. Hey TV reporters of the world, it’s okay to ask the important, critical questions not only of the government officials, but also of the whistle blowers. It really is your job to do just that. You lose credibility when you don’t.

Chris Trenkmann, WFTS-TV:

A Wesley Chapel resident has taken it upon himself to record police and government vehicles speeding without flashing lights or sirens.

Using multiple cameras installed on his SUV, Eric Campbell said he is simply trying to call out the people who are supposed to be upholding the law, for not obeying the law.

FL Tampa Eric Campbell says he is not a vigilante

“I’m not out to get cops,” Campbell said.  “I’d just like to see the same rules apply to everybody.”

Campbell is no stranger to challenging law enforcement.  He filed a class action lawsuit in 2009 after he was ticketed by the Florida Highway Patrol for flashing his headlights to warn oncoming traffic about a speed trap.  Campbell said that case was recently reinstated by the Florida Supreme Court after being dismissed by a lower court.

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