Just The Facts (ON ATS-NCSR spin on "justifying" short yellows!)
Just The Facts
Posted on May 15, 2013 by Paul Henry
Here is Sgt. Joe Friday again. Joe worked when lawmen wanted just the facts, not just the dollars. Contrast Joe’s famous line (that he apparently never said in so many words) with that of another former lawman at the end of this posting. Click the links for the documentation of my allegations and decide for yourself.
Yesterday, automated for-profit device vendor ATS via their front group the National Coalition for Safe Roads (which is really more accurately described as Need Cash for Selfish Reasons) sent out a news release mentioned in this news story http://www.heraldonline.com/2013/05/15/4864883/the-national-coalition-for-safer.html that talked of myths and facts for automated for-profit law enforcement. Seeing as how I have some experience and knowledge on the subject, I thought I’d weigh in with some facts based on my law enforcement, research, and legislative experience.
The below facts are from my 25 years of Florida police experience, to include time spent as a trooper, traffic homicide investigator, and line supervisor as well as personal research using government and published data, and my experience opposing the devices in the Florida legislature.
The NCSR is a front group http://www.thenewspaper.com/news/35/3585.asp for the for-profit device vendor ATS. All references herein to ATS apply to their front group NCSR.
The recent Tampa Bay story is not mentioned in the ATS response, one from some time ago in Orlando is. The reporter in Tampa, Noah Pransky, found shortened times http://www.wtsp.com/news/local/story.aspx?storyid=316418 to be due to DOT guidelines. That is not addressed in the ATS response.
Speaking of the DOT:
In several cities where I pulled state DOT traffic crash data http://retiredpublicsafety.com/wp/red-light-camera-reference-page/, there was no significant reduction in actual red light violation (RLV, not “related”) crashes- these are crashes caused by red light running. Some intersections saw a slight decrease, some saw a slight increase, and some stayed the same. The automated for-profit devices are installed to reduce red light running. They are not installed to reduce rear end or failure to yield (angle or “T-bone”) crashes. Judging their effectiveness using rear end and angle crashes is an invalid means. The devices are ineffective for safety. Pay attention, you’ll see this again.
In the 2012 State undocumented survey http://retiredpublicsafety.com/documents/rlc/DHSMV_2012_RLC_Analysis.pdf of local governments using automated for-profit enforcement, between 20 and 30 percent of them failed to furnish any crash data at all, even though the same device law that generates revenue for them requires them to do so. What are these local governments hiding? Could it be that the devices are ineffective for safety?
In this same undocumented survey, the RLV crashes were not mentioned. What is being hidden? Could it be that the devices are ineffective for safety?
There continue to be new videos of RLV crashes posted by ATS on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/user/ATSRoadSafety at intersections- captured by the very devices placed there to prevent this type of crash. The devices are ineffective for safety.
No city in Florida using automated for-profit law enforcement will tell the public how many RLV crashes they had at device intersections for equal periods of time before and after the use of automated for-profit enforcement. Many will tell how many dollars they are making or provide crash numbers such as “a lot” (Longwood Police Chief Troy Hickson, May 9, 2013 WFTV http://www.wftv.com/news/news/local/longwood-could-have-red-light-cameras/nXm3P/).
Speaking of revenue:
In a May 10, 2013 news story http://www.weartv.com/news/features/top-stories/stories/florida-making-millions-red-light-cameras-31738.shtml, WEAR-TV documented that as of 2011 25 cities in Florida were using automated for-profit law enforcement, which raised $19 million in revenue to the state. As of 2013, the numbers were 70+ cities and $84 million to the state. The number of cities increased by 280%. The revenue increased by 442%. If the devices were effective, the revenue as a percentage would have remained the same as the city/user growth or been reduced. The devices are ineffective for safety.
The above information was translated into graphs for an easier means of visualizing the data. The first graph gives the actual numbers, while the second shows how much revenue should have come in if the devices were effective as compared to what actually came in.
According to state campaign finance records, ATS contributed over $440,000 http://retiredpublicsafety.com/documents/rlc/ATS_contrib_2008-12.xls (click for Excel spreadsheet summary) to Florida politicians and political groups from 2008-2012.
Automated for-profit law enforcement is a bad idea, and it breeds corruption. The trail begins at city hall and goes to Tallahassee.
“In the future, there is significant revenue to be generated by this venture” http://retiredpublicsafety.com/documents/rlc/pdf/041311_RLC_Letter_and_costs.pdf- Former Gulf Breeze, FL Police Chief Peter Paulding, who now makes $2,000/month in retirement http://retiredpublicsafety.com/documents/rlc/pdf/Paulding_stepping_down.pdf thanks to an automated for-profit device program he used his official position to implement.