Turn out the lights on idea of using cameras as cops

By Randy Schultz

Friday, Jan. 21, 2011

Even if red-light cameras were more about safety than money in Florida, we might be where we are. But red-light cameras are more about money than safety, which is why we are where we are.

Last week, Post reporter Jane Musgrave showed in two stories how this technology that so many cities and counties in Florida lust after as a revenue stream may produce only a trickle of money but a river of problems. Local governments imagined that motorists would fork over their fines without protest. Instead, some of those drivers have hired attorneys.

Before Palm Beach County traffic hearing officers, those attorneys and some drivers have exposed flaws in the system. Drivers weren’t in the intersection – or even in the country – when the camera caught them. Cameras weren’t calibrated correctly. When camera photos were enlarged to identify the license plate number, the time and date stamp got fuzzy.

None of it surprises Susan Haynie, a Boca Raton council member who opposes the city’s plan to install cameras, a plan that will wait until the legal issues are resolved – if they can be. “It is crazy to abdicate a law-and-order function to private industry for this ‘supposed’ revenue stream,” Ms. Haynie said. “I continue not to be convinced.”

Ah, but the true believers – most of them motivated by money – won’t give up. A representative of American Traffic Solutions, which installs the cameras and gets paid to operate them, blamed some ticket dismissals on a single Palm Beach County hearing officer. Read More


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