Segment | Politics

Caught on Camera

Correspondent Judy Muller examines the business of red light camera tickets. They cost a lot of money, but do they make us any safer?

UPDATE (6/8/11) - Months after our investigation into the city's use of photo red light cameras, the Los Angeles Police Commission has voted unanimously to get rid of them. That decision will stand — unless the city council votes overwhelmingly to intervene. But key council members say that is unlikely. The cameras could be retired in as little a few weeks.

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I want to commend Judy Muller and the producers on this excellent program. It was high time someone brought out the relevant facts about this waste of taxpayer money and City resources.

Unfortunately, the LAPD is so in love with the idea of issuing tens of thousands of citations that they have no hesitation about giving false and misleading information about the safety benefits they claim have been achieved. In fact, they even slipped one into this report. Their claim about eliminating fatalities at photo enforced intersections is completely bogus. You can read about it here http://www.freedomminute.com/blog/local-government/lapd-cooks-the-books-on-photo-red-light-enforcement-statistics/.

The City Council could vote to end this program, but only if they hear from an outraged public. Contact the Council Member that represents your district and the other Council members that appeared in this story such as Dennis Zine and Tom LaBonge. Also, contact Greg Smith who is the head of the Public Safety Committee that has jurisdiction over this program. You don’t even have to live in L.A. If you work in or visit the city, you have a stake in this too. You can find all their contact numbers on the LA City website.

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Beautiful camera work, great reporting!

Aside from dreams of revenue, here's why politicians OK cameras:
Politicians - and their extended family - are immune to the tickets!
In California 1.5 million privately-owned cars have plate numbers protected from easy look up, effectively invisible to agencies trying to process red light camera violations. The "protected" list includes local politicians, bureaucrats, retired cops, other govt. employees, and their families and ADULT children! Unbelievable? Read Veh. Code 1808.4. If you think this is unfair, ask your assemblyperson and state senator to suppport Assembly Bill 3 (introduced on Dec. 6), which if passed will remove the immunity. (For comparison, the State of Illinois has only 5867 cars on its protected list, and Texas has 18,323.)

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What kind of bureaucrat or politician thinks it's appropriate for someone who doesn't come to a complete stop while turning right on red to be fined $450? Think about it. Anyone who had anything to do with proposing that or voting for that is really sick. How about this - fine people who cause accidents. If no one is coming and you roll through a red light while turning red then there is no harm whatsoever. Isn't it also better on the environment if you don't stop since it uses less gas?

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Thank you for a job well done. You have verified what we at BanTheCams. org have been saying for a year and half. Keep up the good work

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Your program was an excellent service to our citizens. The red light cameras are set up and promoted by a private, for-profit corporation. As such, their job is to figure out how to ticket as many drivers as possible for the highest amount of money possible. Sadly, the politicians have gone along since they get a cut of the fines and see this as a way to raise revenue. The camera companies and the police like to say this is about safety. The police department and traffic department receive more than $1 million of the money raised to pay for several full and part-time employees with benefits and pensions to run the program. L.A. City Controller, Wendy Gruel, did an extensive study questioning the safety reports and statistics established by the LAPD. She is obviously worried about massive back-lash and class actions suits that are going on in cities all over the U.S., including banning these cameras. The camera companies should be monitored regarding the duration of the yellow caution lights which can eliminate a large percentage of the violations...and accidents, though it seems enough people were not running these lights giving the companies and politicians the idea to add "rolling right turns". In August of 2010, both houses of the California State legislature passed a bill (AB 909) to lower the exorbitant fines on "rolling right turns", but Gov. Schwarzeneggar did not sign it! In addition, the camera companies are pushing the legislators to increase uses of these cameras so as to make more money. It is time to lobby your council-people to not renew the contract this April which would extend and expand the use of these cameras.

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Your program is an excellent service to our citizens. The red light cameras are set up and promoted by a private, for-profit corporation. As such, their job is to figure out how to ticket as many drivers as possible for the highest amount of money possible. Sadly, the politicians have gone along since they get a cut of the fines and see this as a way to raise revenue. The camera companies and the police like to say this is about safety. The police department and traffic department receive more than $1 million of the money raised to pay for several full and part-time employees with benefits and pensions to run the program. L.A. City Controller, Wendy Gruel, did an extensive study questioning the safety reports and statistics established by the LAPD. She is obviously worried about massive back-lash and class actions suits that are going on in cities all over the U.S., including banning these cameras. The camera companies should be monitored regarding the duration of the yellow caution lights which can eliminate a large percentage of the violations...and accidents, though it seems enough people were not running these lights giving the companies and politicians the idea to add "rolling right turns". In August of 2010, both houses of the California State legislature passed a bill (AB 909) to lower the exorbitant fines on "rolling right turns", but Gov. Schwarzeneggar did not sign it! In addition, the camera companies are pushing the legislators to increase uses of these cameras so as to make more money. It is time to lobby your council-people to not renew the contract this April which would extend and expand the use of these cameras.