The City of Tallahassee began a Red Light Camera Safety Program on July 1, 2010. Currently, there are 19 red light safety cameras in operation at seven intersections within the City.
Recently, the City released and Tallahassee Reports wrote about data that indicate the use of red light cameras has resulted in more crashes at red light camera intersections three years after the implementation than three years before.
The bottom line is that total crashes increased from 377 before activation to 509 after activation. That data alone should be enough to kill the program. But there is more.
The finances of the program indicate money is leaving the community and landing into the pockets of the red light camera vendor.
Over the three year period of operation the City issued 20,122 violations in 2011, 16,632 in 2012, and 16,386 in 2013.
As of Sept. 2013, the City has collected approximately $6.3 million in fines. However, only $487,000 of the $6.3 million stayed in Tallahassee. Just under $3 million went to the vendor ACS and $3.2 million went to the state of Florida. The remaining $487,000 was transferred to the City’s General Fund.
The City of Tallahassee has reported they do not have plans to expand the Red Light Camera Safety Program.
With the increase in crashes and an ugly financial picture, why not stop the program?
Well there is this. The red light camera industry is known for employing an army of lobbyist to promote the program. Reports indicate red light camera companies have spent well over $1.5 million in Florida lobbying public officials and contributing to political campaigns.
And with the recently proposed legislation for the 2014 session to kill the program, that number will increase. Already, over twenty lobbyists have been hired for the upcoming session.
Another thing the industry is becoming known for is shady activities. In February, 2013 Chicago ended their relationship with Redflex, a red light camera company, amid findings that the “contract was corrupt.” A slew of resignations from Redflex followed and now former employees are starting to talk – and what they are saying involves an elected official in Tallahassee.
According to the Redflex’s former executive vice president, Aaron M. Rosenberg, local officials in Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, Tennessee and Washington received gifts and other financial incentives intended to encourage them to do business with Redflex.
With regards to Florida, an email reported in the Chicago Tribune shows a discussion of a $3,235 dinner at Morton’s Steakhouse during a Florida League of Cities meeting in 2006 to encourage Florida officials to sign up for red light cameras. Officials from Jacksonville, Miami, Pembroke Pines and West Park sought more information on doing business as a result of the free meal.
Mr. Rosenberg wrote that “The dinner at Morton’s served as an opportunity to solidify relationships between Redflex and the above listed cities.. to have had such a gathering of key personnel in a relaxed atmosphere served to break down key resistance and the presence of Scott Maddox interjected a further and higher degree of credibility toward Redflex Traffic Systems.”
Yes, that’s correct. Current City Commissioner Scott Maddox was being paid by red light camera vendors to get the program going in the state of Florida.
Now it is important to note that Redflex is not providing service in Tallahassee. However, the industry reputation is suffering nationwide. And as more and more information becomes available, it is clear that the red light camera approach to law enforcement is serving vendors and lobbyists, not citizens.
It is time for the City of Tallahassee to end this experiment.