Monday, November 12, 2007

Will Red Light Camera's Leave Albuquerque?

The two of you read this blog regularly,(lol) will know that I have often derided Albuquerque's Red Light Camera Program. I have always felt that the program was more geared towards revenue than it was towards safety. Especially when you look at the exorbitant fees the private company that runs the program charges. Now Mayor Chavez has announced he is forming a task force to investigate whether or not the camera's are effective at preventing accidents. Many States and locality's have done similar studies after trying out the camera's and ended up canceling the program.

Below is KOAT TV's coverage of the Task Force.

Mayor Chavez announcement came after two different T.V. stations did investigative pieces over just where the money was going. KOAT TV's investigation revealed that between 2005 and 2007, New Mexicans paid $10.6 million in red light and speed tickets. The city spent $4.8 million to run the safety program, which means $5.8 million is in the city general fund - all generated from the red light and speed program. When KOAT TV asked the city's chief financial officer, Gail Reese, how a program Mayor Martin Chavez claims is not out to make money is making millions. She responded with "Over time this program's costs will equal the revenues.
"It is an expensive program. Safety is an expensive thing,".

Here is the KOAT piece on the profits the City of Albuquerque has made from the program.

As I said earlier RedFlex charges Exorbitant fees to Albuquerque. The city spends about $200,000 a month leasing these cameras and speed vans, and on top of that the company leasing the cameras to Albuquerque, RedFlex, also charges for every single ticket: $18 for red light runners and nearly $25 for speeders. What I hope is that the task force appointed by Marty Chavez or one of the news outlets does a comparison between the contract RedFlex has with the city of Albuquerque and other contracts the company and similar companies have with other cities across the state. I have a feeling there are vast differences and communities that fight for a good deal and want to save taxpayers money are successful in doing so.

This red light program needs to be completely restructured or ended all together. One of the things that we who are law enforcement administrators often try to do is to eliminate the perception that we have quota's or that we make money from tickets. Most agencies do not. The Santa Fe County Sheriff's Office gets about $6000 a year back from magistrate courts from tickets we issue. We issue about 30,000 tickets a year so as you can see it really is not much. Especially when you consider the over ten million dollar budget we have in the Sheriff's Office. This program flies in the face of trying to get rid of the perception that tickets are to generate funds. What tickets should be about is education and deterrence.

Here are some links to past blog posts I have had on red light camera's. When you read them you will see that you heard it here first. The things this task force will study are the things I have advocated looking at all along.

Sheriff Greg Solano Red Light Camera Blog Posts.

Note: I use KOAT TV a lot for embedded video in my blog posts because they are nice enough to post their video on YouTube. Its a great convenience and I think a great way to get free publicity for their station.


Anonymous said...

Mayor Chavez is right to question the integrity of this unconscionable hoax being perpetrated on the people by the City's so-called "Redflex" traffic control.

It is a hoax for the following reasons:

1) It is patently unfair. Appeal rights are meaningless insofar as these "techno-tickets" are issued much after the fact, leaving the victim of this hoax without the ability to provide evidence that a violation did not occur. There is NOTHING in a still photo that establishes culpability, e.g., was the person who is being charged actually the person who was operating the vehicle? Were speed limit signs properly posted or were they absent at the time of the "alleged" offense? A person so charged does not know they are being charged with an offense until they recieve a citation in the mail days or weeks later when evidence that would clear them has been removed or tampered with! It is a hoax! Moreover, the "judge" simply sides with the "officer," when there is a dispute, citing some illogical "preponderance" notion. This has happened even when there are two witnesses that are at the appeal who testify under oath that the officer is in error. No matter to the judge--there is money to be made by denying an appellant of his/her lawful rights. Might makes right in Redhoax World!

2) This Scottsdale corporation must be laughing all the way to the bank at the expense of Albuquerques citizens, as they slam on their brakes to avoid a techno-ticket inflicted on them by a robo-cop. And the beauty of it all is that not only is it tragically dangerous, but it is totally ineffective and unfair.

I hope that the task force will see through this cash cow and stop it in its tracks. Here is something to ponder if you are concerned about traffic safety as well as the issue of fairness to the people. When I went to the so-called appeal court, one of the victims of the Red Hoax asked the officer why he did not drive a marked car or van to slow traffic down and improve safety, he replied: "If I drove a marked car/van, everyone would see it and slow down, and I wouldn't be able to issue any tickets." This remark was made by an APD officer under oath during an appeal. My question is: what are the real priorities here, if not safety, and clearly that is not the point of the RedHoax traffic system. The APD is interested in issuing tickets and relieving motorists of their rights, their integrity and their money--as a priority over and above the issue of safety which is least on their agenda. There is a policeman sitting there in disguise watching alleged unsafe driving, but not bothering to pull a person over to intervene for safety's sake. I think this is a love-affair with money and technology that flys in the face of sound government, respect for the law, and safety. Accordingly, the city should be forced to do away with this dangerous, costly, and unethical folly. The city and the APD should go back to making money the old fashioned way: they should earn it, by promoting safety over their Redhoax money machine.

Anonymous said...

Hi, My name is Samantha And i was wondering if I could ask you a couple of questions about the red lights in ABQ. I'm a student and i was also wondering if you knew of any public meetings that went on or are going to be happening about this situation on the red lights. please let me know, my email is thank you.

Janet said...

They spent $4.8 million to run the safety program, which means $5.8 million is in the city general fund - all generated from the red light and speed program.

Sheriff Greg Solano said...

Sure you can ask me questions. An important meeting will be held on December 3, at the Albuquerque City Council Chambers. Councilor Brad Winter will introduce legislation to suspend the red light camera program in Albuquerque. You can call city hall for the time and directions to the meeting.

spmosher said...

I think the red light cameras should stay.

Of the people I know and those who I have spoken to, those who oppose the red light camera program have been the same who have received tickets... repeatedly in a majority of the cases.

Sound to me like people need to follow the rules of the road. Then you have no worries.

And the appeals process is being backlogged by people who don't want to admit they have broken the law and have been caught. Just pay the damn thing (make payments if necessary) and don't do it again.

Studies in other areas that have used this very technology indicate that it is effective; by increasing awareness, you increase safety, thereby reducing accidents, injuries and deaths;thus reducing the public cost overall. Why should ABQ be so different?

Stop thinking of yourselves, and think of the bigger picture. Slow down, be considerate of others when in traffic, and follow traffic laws.

Perhaps when we get in that "mindset" then we could remove intrusive gadgets such as traffic cameras.. but until that time arrives.. I am all for the Red Light Camera System, and would like to see more of this kind of camera technology all over the city.