The Rutherford Institute Takes on Red Light Cameras

December 23, 2010

The same group who sued the Department of Homeland Security and TSA on behalf of a pilot who was not allowed to do his job because he wouldn’t submit to an irradiating body scan or invasive groping, has focused its attention on red light scameras.

This is just another reason to stay tuned in 2011 for the continued fight against “Big Brother’s” assault on our personal liberty.


Did Scottsdale Officer Debbie Wood Commit Perjury?

November 23, 2010

A motorist recently received a photo red light ticket in the mail for allegedly running a red light by a trivial 0.2 seconds at the Scottsdale Rd. and Shea Blvd. intersection in Scottsdale. Interestingly, none of the photos taken clearly show the driver. This didn’t stop Scottsdale Police Officer Debra (Debbie) Wood from signing the citation and declaring “I hereby certify that I have reasonable grounds to believe, and do believe, based on my examination of digital images and data associated with this violation, that the person named herein committed the civil traffic violation listed above.” According to ARS 28-1561.B, a false certification is perjury.

We have to wonder how Debra Wood was able to identify the driver of the vehicle in question with most facial features hidden by the vehicles sun visor and rear view mirror. In fact, it’s not even possible to identify the gender of the driver with any certainty. We know that Arizona courts have ruled on at least 3 occasions that a gender match alone is not sufficient to establish reasonable grounds of belief required to issue a ticket. So how exactly did Officer Wood identify the driver?

In the pursuit of filling Scottsdale and Redflex’s coffers, it appears to us that Officer Wood knowingly and purposefully committed perjury, as the images simply do not provide enough information (reasonable grounds) required to identify the driver and thus to issue a ticket legally. If ever tried and convicted, Officer Wood is at risk of losing her POST certification.

Freeways Fine after DPS Scameras Shut Off

September 20, 2010

The freeway camera system was shutoff in July, and Redflex official spokeswoman Shoba Vaitheeswaran was quoted saying, “This should be a wake-up call to everyone in the community to be even more careful and watch for a large increase in aggressive, dangerous driving,” implying that the Arizona freeways would never be safe again without cameras snapping photos of drivers. Shoba was undoubtedly hoping that drivers had forgotten that the freeways were just fine before the states’ failed money-making scam began.

Now two months after the camera shutoff, KTAR is reporting that there has been NO CHANGE in driving habits according to the director of the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, Alberto Gutier. “I haven’t seen any changes in behavior, I don’t see people sort of flying down the highways, although I’m sure it exists some places.”

News/Talk 92.3 KTAR’s traffic reporter, “Detour Dan” Beach, believes drivers are taking advantage of the speed cameras disappearance. But even so, it does not appear to have made the roads any more dangerous, as Beach says that he has not seen an increase in crashes.

Cameras Coming Down In the US and Across the Pond

August 4, 2010

Ever since the British government announced and end of funding support for speed cameras across the country, headlines have been announcing the decisions of towns and villages across the country to end their automated ticketing scams. While the government has always insisted that the cameras are about safety, it is definitely apparent that no one wants to actually pay for this alleged benefit as location after location is announcing the end of their camera programs.

The move is not without its critics who conveniently ignore data that shows the decades-long trend of improving road safety slowed significantly after the saturation of scameras across the land:

“Using the road casualty rate from 1978-1990 it can be estimated that 1,555,244 more road casualties have occurred from 1991-2007 than would have if the 1978-1990 trend had continued.”

These same experts are predicting a bloodbath after the end of the program, in a desperate attempt to get motorists to wonder how they ever survived without cameras taking pictures and mailing fines to the owners of vehicles. These critics also ignore the results of Swindon’s decision last year to end their camera program. Six months after the switch off, there has been no increase in accidents, as well as other reports of increasing accidents.

Here in the US, Yucaipa, CA and Costa Mesa, CA recently ended their red light camera programs, as has reported. Yucaipa was so desperate to end their contract that they paid Redflex $198,000 for the privilege. According to city data, Costa Mesa saw accidents INCREASE after installing cameras.

Another One For The “Each Ticket is Reviewed by an Officer” Folder

July 23, 2010

In photo enforcement programs across the country, the claims continue to be made that “each violation is reviewed by an officer” before a ticket is mailed. The reality is that violations are either NOT reviewed by officers or the standards of evidence are much lower than anyone would imagine. In many cases, the camera companies and the municipalities are just eager to bring in a check so they send out a ticket regardless of the consequences to the innocent.

Take this recent AZ DPS photo ticket, for example, where it is not even possible to distinguish any features of the driver whatsoever (click on photo to enlarge). This didn’t stop Redflex from mailing the bogus ticket in the hopes that someone who didn’t know better would help them boost their profit margins.

According to the IIHS, the driver of the vehicle is NOT the owner of the vehicle over 28% of the time, which means that photo enforcement has a built-in 28% identify error rate even before we consider equipment malfunctions, corporate-owned vehicles, missing/ineligible plates, and system and processing errors.

Imagine for a moment what this country’s founders would say about a law enforcement system with a built-in error rate greater than 1 in 4 where the recipient must prove that he wasn’t driving in order to be found innocent. Imagine if you would re-elect a local sheriff if their department arrested the wrong person over 28% of the time. When did Arizona decide that a law enforcement system that heavily burdens the innocent is what we want?

Oh that’s right, the people or Arizona have never voted on this issue! Jan Brewer: Put photo enforcement on the ballot!

DPS scameras still hiding in the shadows

May 19, 2010

One of our CameraFraud volunteers recently captured the below photo showing 2 DPS scamera vans hiding on a freeway, lurking in the shadows underneath an overpass.

This just goes to show that Arizona DPS continues to ignore recommendations issued by ASU Professor Simon Washington Ph. D. (and others), which state in part:

“the placement of cameras in close proximity to high information load locations (e.g., on- and off-ramps, underpasses, billboards, weaving sections, directional signs, etc.) should be avoided.”

“Placement of cameras in sight-restricted locations should be avoided.”

Of course, if it’s not about safety and all about the money, why would they listen to some silly suggestions comprehensive analysis from an ASU professor and colleagues?

Perhaps DPS is trying to rake in as much revenue as possible before they are forced to abandon the scamera game.

If you’d like to read more, we previously covered the ASU study in the following articles:
DPS vs. Prof.: At Odds Over Cam Locations
DPS and Redflex: No Regard for Human Life

Thanks to Stacey for capturing the photo used above.

Surprise! Photo Radar Trailer Malfunctions Caught on Video

April 27, 2010

Be careful what you wish for, or you might just get it. The residents in the area of the 11600 block of southbound Bullard Avenue of Surprise, AZ are now regretting their requests for photo enforcement. Monday was the first day of issuing tickets from Redflex’s new photo enforcement trailer for the City of Surprise. The residents didn’t anticipate the controversy that comes with photo enforcement, and the fierce support for CameraFraud’s efforts that accompanies our protests in the form of honking, as well as the loud noise caused by the generator inside of the unit, in addition to the extra, random flashes of light all hours of the day.

But Surprise citizens and visitors also got something they weren’t expecting: photo enforcement lottery tickets! It turns out that you never know if the trailer is working or not. During the day-long protest, we observed at least a hundred false flashes with no cars around as well as some cars that were going fast that did not get flashed and others that were going slow or creeping along that did get flashed. We didn’t have a radar gun to definitively check speeds; however, we captured 3 incidences on video where the cameras flashed for absolutely no reason.

We can’t blame the police. They don’t own, operate, or maintain the equipment. They are under contract with Redflex who has full responsibility for operating and maintaining the equipment, and who gets a cut of every ticket issued. No wonder it goes off so much! Redflex is paid to gather evidence for the police to issue citations for non-commercial vehicle owners exceeding the posted limit. Think of it as a private investigator, but without the license! But when we informed the police who stopped by to check in our protest, they didn’t seem to be concerned. I guess that’s one of the perks of outsourcing your job to another entity.

If you live in Surprise or drive through Surprise, contact the Surprise police department and let them know that you are concerned about being caught by a malfunctioning machine and ask them how they know it’s working properly. You can email or call 623-222-4000.

Court Ruling: Gender Match Insufficient to Qualify as Reasonable Grounds to Issue Photo Ticket

April 23, 2010

From the beginning, scamera vendors and officials have attempted to quell concerns of legitimacy by stating that an officer will review each and every citation. The problem is, no one ever asked exactly what they’d be reviewing. We should have known better…

In an Oct 2009 court ruling from the Maricopa County Superior Court, a judge has ruled that a photo traffic complaint is not properly issued if an officer merely matches that the sex of the person in the photo matches the sex of the vehicle registrant.

A.R.S. § 28-1561 states that traffic complaints need to contain a certification “by the issuing officer in substance as follows: ‘I hereby certify that I have reasonable grounds to believe and do believe that the person named herein committed the offense or civil violation described herein contrary to law.’” However, an aide from the Tempe police department testified that they only match sex, and do not look at physical descriptions.

Therefore, the court concluded that the traffic complaint was improperly issued because the officer did NOT have reasonable grounds to believe that the defendant committed the offense. That doesn’t seem to have had any effect on procedures, as the police still issue tickets even with obvious race and appearance mismatches. They get away with it because judges don’t seem to want to enforce section B of the statutes which states:

B. A false certification under the provisions of subsection A is perjury.

The intent of the perjury provision is to help ensure that police do not abuse their power by issuing false citations. The reality is that this is what the photo enforcement programs have been about since their inception. They issue known false citations by the hundreds and thousands, as evidenced by court statistics. Most people are happy when their case is dismissed because they don’t resemble the person in the photo; however, anyone receiving a photo ticket where the officer clearly made a false certification needs to take measures to see that the responsible officer be charged with perjury as is appropriate under this statute. Only enforcement of the perjury provision under this statute will have any effect on curbing this attack on the innocent. Of course, the end of all photo enforcement in Arizona in November will achieve that as also.

DPS: Two Tickets Safer Than One

April 19, 2010

Over the past week (and several other times in the past), DPS has ordered Redflex to park speed vans in one of their favorite spots on Eastbound 101 where it goes under I-17. Those familiar with this stretch of freeway know that the closest entry point to this stretch of the freeway is 101 & 51st Ave and that there is a fixed speed camera located near the 35th Ave exit which is less than a mile west of this speed van van location.

With no on-ramps between the two camera locations, everyone who drives by the speed van must have driven by the fixed camera. And anyone getting flashed by the first camera who didn’t take an exit will likely be flashed by the second… for the same violation. Most would consider this to be double jeopardy, but DPS apparently has no qualms about a system that will issue multiple tickets to the same vehicle owner (not necessarily the driver) for the same offense.

DPS and Redflex claim that the cameras have slowed traffic down and are “modifying driver behavior,” but if this were the case, why is a second camera needed less than a mile from the first? The only conclusion that can be drawn is that the DPS thinks that mailing two tickets will make the streets safer than just sending one. With thousands and thousands of miles of freeways in this state, they want us to believe that the best use of a speed van is to park it within 1 mile of a permanent camera? This isn’t about safety, folks. It’s about revenue, and always has been.

AZ Republic Shills for Mesa Photo Program (Again)

April 16, 2010

The Republic is at it again. In another display of journalism at its worst, Arizona Republic writer Nathan Gonzalez spreads propaganda and tries to give credit to Mesa’s photo enforcement program where credit isn’t due.

In what is truly a stretch of a headline, the Republic proclaims, “Mesa police credit photo enforcement for accident decline.” Never mind that quotes from police Sgt. Andy Nesbit in the same article contradict this, “Understand, though, that we can’t say photo safety is the cause.” In fact Nesbit point out that several other factors have probably helped, “Traffic patrols and the city’s involvement in DUI task forces have played a role along with the photo-enforcement program,” Nesbit said.

Proper journalism would call for an interview of an expert on the matter such as a city traffic engineer as well as a comparison of data to other cities and regional and national trends. Had Nathan done this, he’d have shown a national trend of a reduction in fatalities of about 9%, and a 18-20% reduction in overall accidents. The traffic engineer could have also provided data on traffic volume through the city, as the number of miles traveled can have a huge impact on crash numbers. When these facts are considered, Mesa probably saw an INCREASE in accidents and fatalities, as Mesa reports that the number of fatalities was unchanged and a reduction in overall crashes of only 7% – significantly less than national averages. Accidents are usually categorized as either non-injury, injury, and fatality. Curiously, the article omits injury accident numbers.

Nathan also attempts the classical tactic of using emotion to tug at the readers heartstrings by opening the article with a story about a fatal accident involving a red light runner. It’s unclear because of how it’s (purposefully?) written, but the person killed in the accident was actually the person who ran the red light as explained in this article. There’s not enough information to draw any solid conclusions, but our money says that the 60-year-old woman probably wasn’t merely trying to “beat the light” or avoid sitting in traffic and that a camera would not have made any difference except to mail her a ticket a few weeks later.

The article also highlights the ineffectiveness of the photo enforcement system but glosses over these facts:

Of the photo-radar speed tickets generated, Mesa Municipal Court documents indicate that 7,693 were paid last year and 8,488 were either dismissed by the Police Department or dismissed because the driver wasn’t served with the ticket.

Of the red-light citations, 4,849 were paid and 6,139 were dismissed.

This gives the speed tickets an effectiveness rate of only 48%, and red light tickets a rate of 44%. So much for fair “law enforcement.” The rates get even worse if you consider the total number of citations which were mentioned in the side bar. Total speed citations: 23,533. Total Red Light citations: 18,200.

Another curious observation is the lack of the ability to comment on the story. Afraid of letting the truth get in the way again, Arizona Republic?

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