Friday, January 30, 2009

Police attempt to manipulate study on red-light cameras

It turns out that the Houston Police Department tried to count accidents at camera-enforced intersections differently in order to skew the findings in a city-commissioned study on the use of red light cameras.  That study found an increase in the number of accidents at monitored intersections.

Dr. Robert Stein, of Rice University, one of the study's authors, acknowledged the cameras are not working as planned.
Why are these crashes going up at these intersections?  Nobody really cares to get at the truth here. Cars are being damaged, people are being injured and a handful of people are dying. … What I want to know is, why they aren’t working in Houston, and what we can do to improve them?

The police department asked Dr. Stein not to consider accidents that occurred more than 100 feet from a monitored intersection or accidents in which there was no red light violation. Why would the police make such "requests?"  It's simple...the city claims the red-light camera program was put in place to make the streets safer - but, from the beginning, critics have said the purpose of the program is to raise revenue for the city.

As I pointed out in a previous post, tickets from the red-light cameras are considered civil violations of a city ordinance and determined based upon a preponderance of the evidence while citations issued by a police officer are Class C misdemeanors and require the prosecutor to prove the violation beyond a reasonable doubt.

The designation as a civil violation also means the citizen accused does not have the right to confront his accuser as the only evidence presented is a photograph of the license plate and a conclusory affidavit.  So much for equal protection under the law.

Currently Houston attorneys Randall Kallinin and Paul Kubosh are involved in litigation to shut down the city's red-light camera program and end the money grab.


Mark Bennett said...

"Why aren't they working in Houston" is, as I understand it, a stupid question -- they aren't working anywhere.

Joni Mueller said...

Well, I keep Mr. Kubosh busy. I've gotten more traffic tickets in my Honda Accord than I ever did in my Nissan 300ZX. Go figure.

I guess the City has to make money somehow. I'd like to know how much was spent on these traffic cameras, tho. And shame on them for attempting to skew the results in their favor instead of admitting the concept doesn't work.

Daniel said...

If the purpose of the red light cameras is to make the intersections safer and it does not make the intersections safer then the program is a failure and it should be stopped.

If the purpose of the red light cameras is to generate more income for the city then the program is a success.

Laws exist for societies benefit, not the benefit of city coffers.