Southland city removes red light cameras after 'rear end collisions have actually increased'
By Martin Hill
November 5, 2009
Two southland cities have terminated their contracts with red light camera vendors and removed the cameras in recent months, after internal reports acknowledged that the use of the cameras were neither effective nor fiscally responsible.
Sgt Matthews of the Upland Police Dept. said they terminated the contract with Redflex and removed the cameras at the end of June. "They were not effective in our city. What matters to us is the effectiveness in the city of Upland." The cameras were "inefective in reducing collisions", which was the point of the cams, he said.
An Upland City Council Committee Report dated April 28, 2008 had previously recommended that the city add two more cameras:
12. COUNCIL COMMITTEE REPORTS:
A. POLICE AND FIRE COMMITTEE MEETING, APRIL 28, 2008
1. RED LIGHT CAMERA PROGRAM, the committee recommended that the City Council give direction to move forward with the Red Light Camera Expansion Program which would add two new red light cameras, north and south approaches, at the intersection of 11th Street and Euclid Avenue.
However, a report to the Police and Fire Committee from Upland City Manager Rob Quincey on February 23, 2009 recommended that the city "terminate the contract with Redflex Traffic Systems, Inc."
The report, prepared by Police Chief Steve Adams and Sergeant Eleno Arriaga, stated that "The proposed action will support the City's goal to provide better Police field services and be fiscally responsible to the community."
The report outlined analysis of several issues: the financial feasibility of the cameras, the possible illegality of the contract, and the fact that rear end collissions have actually increased.
"the contract was entered into June 2003"..."The internal review of the potential violations utilizes an officer within the Police department to issue the citations".
"The monthly revenue from the service has not covered the salary and benefits of those who review and issue potential violations. Redflex also desires to eliminate an $8,900 credit per month, which has allowed the system to remain financially neutral at best. There is also a reduction of manpower in the field, while the officer is operating the system at the police department. Elimination of the system would free up the officer to handle eminent business and focus on other enforcement areas; therefore, making better use of resources.
"Redflex has also proposed a change in payment plan for the contract, consisting of $4,500 per current approach and $6,200 for new approaches per month, currently the city pays $89 per citation. The contract issue is currently under court scrutiny, and, pending the outcome, has the potential to invalidate citations previously issued. The system appears to have little influence on the number of red light related collisions at monitored intersections. At times rear end collissions have actually increased.
The system's monthly revenue since November 2003 has not covered the officer's salary and benefits currently billed to the system. If the current credit from Redflex is eliminated the revenue in relation would be reduced $8900 a month, again not covering the officer's salary and benefits. The salary also does not include weekly overtime from court appearances generated by the citations. Redflex has recently proposed a change in the contract to pay per approach, which would likely place the City in a position from which it would never attain a positive revenue flow."
Richard Eden, Chief Financial officer of Redlex, had sent a letter to Sgt John Poole of the Upland Police Dept. in December 2005 outlining changes to their agreement:
"Redflex further agrees to provide the first 100 citationss issued each month in the City of Upland at no charge for a period of six (6) months commencing December 1st 2005. At the expiry of this period, the fiscal position of the city will be reviewed again and the parties shall discuss additional amendments that may be required to satisfy both parties"
HighwayRobbery.net, which opposes the cameras and offers a vast library of information to motorists, points out that under California Vehicle Code Section 21455.5(g)(1), which went into effect effective Jan. 1, 2004, pay per ticket contracts between cities and red light camera vendors are illegal:
(1) A contract between a governmental agency and a manufacturer or supplier of automated enforcement equipment may not include provision for the payment or compensation to the manufacturer or supplier based on the number of citations generated, or as a percentage of the revenue generated, as a result of the use of the equipment authorized under this section.
HighwayRobbery.net goes on to point out that "The author of 21455.5 wrote:
"Paying red light camera vendors [suppliers] based on the number of tickets issued undermines the public's trust and raises concern that these systems can be manipulated for profit."
(Official comment by Senator - then Assemblywoman - Jenny Oropeza, published in 8/27/03 legislative analysis of AB 1022 of 2003.)
The neighboring city of Montclair also recently announced that they have terminated their red light camera program., which was administered by Nestor Traffic Systems, Inc..
Sgt. Matthews also answered some questions about motorist checkpoints in the City of Upland, explaining that they don't have a set schedule for checkpoints, but issue a press release to the local paper telling when, but not where, the checkpoints will take place. DUI checkpoints are combined with drivers license checkpoints, he said, with the goal being "deterence and education".
When asked if it is compulsory for the driver to show their license at the checkpoint, he said yes.
I asked him about an anecdotal story I had heard from a motorist who told me that they were once stopped by the Upland Police and the officer asked if he could look in the driver's car. The driver said no, and the officer allegedly responded that refusal to consent to a search is probable cause. Not commenting on that particular case since he was no familiar with it, Matthews explained that "refusal to consent to a search in and of itself does not equate to probable cause".
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