IS THAT RED LIGHT CAMERA A TROJAN HORSE: SPYING ON ALL CITIZEN ACTIVITIES INCLUDING THE INTENDED RED LIGHT VIOLATIONS? -- INTRODUCING THE SNITCH TICKET!
Although expressly prohibited, certain California cities, possibly at the urging of the city's red light camera operators and the insurance industry's lobbyists, are trying to quietly modify California's vehicle code to allow the streaming video feeds from these so-called "red light" cameras to allow their unrestricted use by law enforcement for any purpose "outside" the enforcement of red light violations.
While certain municipalities have installed surveillance cameras in high crime areas on the theory that the public has no expectation of privacy on public property, it has also been recognized that these cameras can be directed at targets located on private property for the "private and pleasurable" purposes of camera operators. There does not appear to be any apparent safeguards or penalties associated with this unauthorized spying on private citizens which is totally unrelated to public necessity and which is unlikely to be discovered by abused and aggrieved members of the public.
Accordingly, the Oakland City Council has authorized the expenditure of taxpayer funds to engage lobbyists to draft and obtain a legislative sponsor for such activities. Quietly and without apparently seeking widespread citizen involvement or comment.
"RESOLUTION DIRECTING THE CITY'S STATE LOBBYIST TO DRAFT, AND OBTAIN A LEGISLATIVE SPONSOR FOR, STATE LEGISLATION TO MODIFY SECTION 21455.5(e) OF THE CALIFORNIA VEHICLE CODE TO ALLOW THE MONITORING AND USE OF PHOTOGRAPHIC RECORDS CAPTURED BY A RED LIGHT CAMERA OR SIMILAR AUTOMATED ENFORCEMENT SYSTEM, FOR LAW ENFORCEMENT PURPOSES OUTSIDE THE ENFORCEMENT OF RED LIGHT VIOLATIONS"
"WHEREAS, notwithstanding Section 6253 of the Government Code, or any other provision of law, California Vehicle Code Section 21455.5(e) limits the use of photographic records made by an automated enforcement system to governmental agencies and law enforcement agencies only for the purposes of enforcing the traffic laws related to red light violations; and
WHEREAS, automated enforcement systems are capable of providing streaming video which can be monitored in real time or searched for archived images that provide evidence that can be used by law enforcement agencies for valid law enforcement investigative and administrative public
nuisance, and public safety purposes, in addition to the enforcement of red light violations; now, therefore be it
RESOLVED: That the City's State Lobbyist is hereby directed to draft an amendment to Section 21455.5(e) of the California Vehicle Code that would allow law enforcement agencies and local enforcement officials to use photographic or any other evidence from red light camera or similar automated enforcement systems for any law enforcement purpose, in addition to red light violation enforcement currently authorized, and to locate a legislative sponsor for the bill."
However, it appears that, possibly due to the camera angles. that the system will produce little other than expense for the municipality and greatly increase the revenues of the outsourced system's operator. According to an 2002 American Civil Liberties Union news release...
"The American Civil Liberties Union told Congress that the implementation of a surveillance camera system in the District of Columbia would undermine individual privacy while doing nothing to prevent terrorism or crime, and would sap resources from other proven law enforcement measures."
"'In every other city where these types of cameras have been tried - from London, England, to Oakland here in the America - the eventual verdict has been resounding dissatisfaction,' said Johnny Barnes, Executive Director of the National Capital Area ACLU. 'They're ineffective in preventing crime and an enormous sink of money and personnel.'"
And according to 2002 testimony before Congress...
"For three years, the Oakland, California police department advocated the use of surveillance cameras in public places. The department had technology that could read the fine print on a flyer from hundreds of yards away, and that could recognize a license plate or a face from more than a mile away. In a report to the City Council, Chief of Police Joseph Samuels, Jr., stated that his department had hoped to be 'among the pioneers in the field of taped video camera surveillance' but ultimately found that 'there is no conclusive way to establish that the presence of video surveillance cameras resulted in the prevention or reduction of crime.'"
"Simply put, there is no evidence that links publicly operated surveillance cameras to a decrease in crime rates. At best, studies have been inconclusive on the efficacy issue; at worst, they clearly show surveillance cameras to be completely ineffective. But none have found the dramatic effects that proponents claim follow the installation of cameras."
What has changed in the years between 2002 and 2007, other than the desire of a state municipality to pander to special interests?
Politics, Money and Red Light Enforcement Vendors seem to go hand-in-hand...
Arizona: Photo Ticket Company Wants No Points
A photo ticketing company is trying to do away with license demerit points for camera tickets in Arizona.
Scottsdale, Arizona's new photo enforcement vendor, ATS, is promoting legislation that would remove license demerit points from photo tickets issued in the state. The change is designed to increase the number of citations issued, reduce the cost of taking photographs and eliminate a number of due process protections that come with criminal citations.
When there is no need to match the driver in a speed camera photograph to the registered owner, the revenue from citations is expected to skyrocket at least 40 percent for both the camera vendor and any Arizona city operating photo radar or red light cameras.
Rival red light camera vendor Redflex from Australia has joined with Scottsdale city officials to oppose the move. The East Valley Tribune reports ATS is pushing for the change as an amendment to budget legislation.
The primary beneficiary of the current license point system is the insurance industry which raises billions of dollars in increased premiums from photo tickets issued in Arizona, California, Colorado, Illinois and overseas. The change would not affect conventional traffic citations.
Introducing the "SNITCH TICKET"
I was introduced to the concept of the "snitch ticket" by Jim, the site editor of HighwayRobbery.net who pointed me to an entry on his site covering so-called "nomination" tickets. These are "non-tickets" disguised to look like actual citations which are generated by the red light camera vendors and municipalities when there are defects in the ticket production process and only the license number appears to be readable. These tickets are addressed to the registered owner and requests that you "snitch" on the person who was actually driving the vehicle on the day in question. Although you are under no legal obligation to respond to such a request, the official-looking nature of the communication scares the timid and those who are unable to research the bogus ticket into sending the requested information back to the vendor or city so an actual ticket may be prepared and presented.
In some cases, the municipalities involved with red light camera enforcement, at the urging of vendors, are trying to dramatically increase their shared revenues by doing away with any need to notify the State Department of Motor Vehicles. Of course, this is opposed by the insurance industry.
"The primary beneficiary of the current license point system is the insurance industry which raises billions of dollars in increased premiums from photo tickets issued in Arizona, California, Colorado, Illinois and overseas." 
As per an article in Arizona's East Valley Tribune...
"A Scottsdale-based photo enforcement company is quietly trying to gather legislative support for a dramatic overhaul of the citation process that would change who is sent a ticket for speeding or running a red light."
"American Traffic Solutions has met with municipal and police chief lobbying groups to pitch its idea of sending photo enforcement citations to the vehicle's registered owner whether or not they were the driver, and not assessing points to a either the owners's or drivers's records."
"Under ATS's proposal, photographs would only be taken of the license plate and then the registered owner would be sent a citation. Currently, a photograph is taken of the driver and the license plate, which must be matched to issue a citation. Because there would be no driver photographs, the citations would no longer assess points against the registered owners's or drivers' license."
"In other states there is a 90 percent rate of citations being paid, Tuton said. In Arizona, about 50 percent of citations are paid, but only about 25 percent of the actual detections since a sizable number of detections never result in citations. The plan would not only increase revenue, but would eliminate the need for process servers."
"The company is also using a safety pitch, saying the end of driver photographs means drivers will no longer try to cover their faces and risk crashes to avoid being recognized."
"Rival red light camera vendor Redflex from Australia has joined with Scottsdale city officials to oppose the move. The East Valley Tribune reports ATS is pushing for the change as an amendment to budget legislation. 
Believe me, it has little to do with safety and a lot to do with revenue generation and campaign donations.
What can YOU do?
Demand any red light photo enforcement system has a demonstrable effect on safety or be removed.
Demand that any legislator or other person involved with the installation of outsourced enforcement equipment clearly disclose all funds, direct or indirect, whether received by the company or it's lobbyist/lawyers under penalty of perjury.
Demand that a cap be placed on red light enforcement devices that would limit any revenue paid to any outsource company be limited to 200% of the equipment cost and 150% of legitimate maintenance costs.
Research red light cameras and "snitch tickets" at www.highwayrobbery.net.
Vote for politicians who balance their budgets without making American's wrong with "got'cha" devices that contribute more toward revenue and only marginally improve safety, if at all.
A reminder from OneCitizenSpeaking.com: a large improvement can result from a small change...
Source: Photo firm seeks redo on traffic citations (East Valley Tribune (AZ), 4/16/2007)
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“The key to fighting the craziness of the progressives is to hold them responsible for their actions, not their intentions.” – OCS "The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane." -- Marcus Aurelius “A people that elect corrupt politicians, imposters, thieves, and traitors are not victims... but accomplices” -- George Orwell
“The key to fighting the craziness of the progressives is to hold them responsible for their actions, not their intentions.” – OCS
"The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane." -- Marcus Aurelius
“A people that elect corrupt politicians, imposters, thieves, and traitors are not victims... but accomplices” -- George Orwell