Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s speed camera program improperly issued more than $2.4 million in fines to Chicago drivers, ticketing them when cameras were supposed to be off and when the required warning signs were confusing, obscured or missing, a Tribune investigation has found.

At the same time, City Hall has systematically ticketed drivers near schools without the legally required evidence of a schoolchild in sight. A Tribune random-sample analysis puts the number of those questionable tickets at about 110,000.

And while it was pitched by the mayor as a way to protect youngsters walking near parks and schools, the most prolific cameras in the 2-year-old “Children’s Safety Zone” initiative can be found along major roadways, where crash data show child pedestrians are least likely to be struck by speeders.

Even as city officials refused for months to discuss the problems with the Tribune, the Emanuel administration was quietly moving to get out in front of the issues. Since the newspaper first began asking city officials about the program in July, the administration has altered guidelines for ticketing and begun to vacate nearly $1 million in tickets.

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