Well here’s something that most citizens and cops can agree upon. We both dislike red light cameras.
Unlike some privacy advocates, I won’t argue that cities don’t have the right to install these cameras. After all, we don’t really have an expectation of privacy in public.
I just don’t like them because I like to run the occasional red light.
I also don’t like them because it’s pretty much a scam. The governments and the camera companies end up splitting the fines that are collected.
In Miami, it is generally accepted that you can run a light within a second after it turns red because most cops down here don’t bother to enforce these infractions.
For the most part, Miami cops don’t bother you unless you are committing a violent crime or taking their photo.
You can pretty much drink and drive, smoke pot, run red lights, cut people off in traffic, drive over the speed limit and Miami cops will leave you alone as long as you’re not meddling into their business.
Even if that business happens to be our business as tax-paying citizens, which makes them no different than cops throughout the United States.
And that is exactly why cops throughout the country are not appreciating the red light cameras.
The cameras, after all, don’t play favorites when it comes to cops running red lights. They don’t allow the usual professional courtesy of allowing cops to let other cops off the hook after pulling them over (and learning they are cops).
According to the Baltimore Sun:
Police officers are getting caught, and are crying foul. The camera doesn’t care whether a cop is off-duty and going shopping in his personal pickup truck or is on duty and speeding to a bank robbery in a marked police cruiser, lights flashing and siren blaring.
Go through a red light ($75 fine) or speed ($40 fine) and the camera snaps a picture.
There’s an official record, and it takes more than a wink and a nod to extend “officer courtesy” to a fellow cop.
Even on-duty officers in marked patrol cars aren’t getting out of paying the fines. Many Maryland jurisdictions are holding officers and other emergency workers personally liable for the tickets, unless they can prove they were responding to legitimate emergencies at the time.
The Palm Beach Post reported a similar story regarding cops in West Palm Beach.
And while many politicians seem to be supporting these cameras, one republican state senator from Miami-Dade has introduced a bill that would ban these cameras by July 2011.
“It is an unwarranted, big-brother initiative,” said (Rene) Garcia in a release. “We need to ensure that citizens are treated fairly, and this bill will protect Floridians from intrusive snapshots and inaccurate ticketing. Local governments have used these cameras to tax their citizens under the disguise of safety.”