In an article about red light cameras in the February 3, 2011 issue of the Leader newspaper, Arnold Ward 2 Councilman Jim Edwards said he wants the city to hire a collection agency to try to recover approximately $410,830 in unpaid red-light camera ticket charges. Arnold City Administrator Matt Unrein said it is not economically feasible because the collection agency wants 40% of the money collected and it would all come out of Arnold’s share. Edwards said he would continue to pursue the collection effort because anything is better than nothing. He then said people need to realize it’s going to hurt them if they don’t pay it. It will go on their credit and they won’t be able to get a loan. I thought it wasn’t about the money, it was about safety. I also thought in this country you were presumed innocent until proven guilty.
When Jay Nixon was the Attorney General he questioned the legality of the cameras. He stated in order to run a red light it takes a vehicle and a person. The method they’ve established in this area deals only with the machine. He also stated that State Law doesn’t allow the use of automated enforcement. At that time City Attorney Bob Sweeney disagreed. He believes the evidence would be sufficient to make the tickets hold up in court. If a vehicle were registered to more than one person the ticket would go to whoever’s name appears first on the title. If that person can present indisputable proof that he or she was not driving it would go to the second person or be dropped. People have a Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate themselves. It is not up to the people to present indisputable proof they were not driving, it is up to the government to prove the individual did the violation.
According to the article the prior three-member Jefferson County Executive Board began working on the installation of more red-light cameras in Jefferson County at the request of Sheriff Glenn Boyer. This board consisting of Chuck Banks, Pat Lamping and Ed Kemp wanted to make sure none of the money would go into the county general fund to alleviate the impression that the red-light cameras are a money grab. Kemp proposed giving 30% to the Jeffco Express bus service 50% to the Sheriff’s Office and 20% to the Municipal Courts. Kemp, who was against the red-light cameras in the beginning stated, “The biggest complaint I heard was that this is a money grab. I thought giving the money to the sheriff and public transportation would alleviate some of those thoughts.” Wwhaaaat? The reason for the cameras is to produce revenue, i.e. “a money grab,” and by distributing the money to the Sheriff’s Department and a bus service does not change that fact. It is all about the money.
Sheriff Boyer wants the money to hire additional deputies. Dennis Murphy, the project coordinator for Jeffco Express wanted the money for the fledgling bus service. Murphy was promised the money by the prior board and was told, “We really want to overcome this perception of a money grab, that’s why we want to give it to you.” Sheriff Boyer and Dennis Murphy already started to count and spend the money, so naturally they support red-light cameras. But wait, I thought the reason for the red-light cameras was about SAFETY and not the money. Let’s just say that it worked. People drive more safely and responsibly and no longer run the red lights. Now, where are Sheriff Boyer and Dennis Murphy going to get the revenue for the deputies and the bus service?
The electric signal and or the cameras will not protect you or prevent an accident from happening. It’s the other vehicles that will hurt you. If they are truly concerned about safety and minimizing accidents at electric signals, they should discuss physics. In physics an object that is in motion takes time to come to a stop; wherein an object that is stopped is not in motion and takes no time to stop. People need to stop thinking they are at a drag strip, watching for the lights to turn green and immediately giving it the gas crossing through the intersection. People need to pay more attention to the other vehicles and make sure they are stopping before proceeding through the intersection. This would reduce the amount of accidents at electric signals. The goal should be to prevent the accidents from happening. The best way to do that would be to educate people into driving defensively. That is why I support the new Jefferson County Council when they voted 6-0 to repeal the red-light camera ordinance that was approved in September by the former county administration. The proponent’s original intent of red-light cameras supposedly was to reduce accidents at the signals; however in reality red-light cameras are about the money not safety!