Category Archives: Photo Enforcement

Three More Cities Vote to Ban Red Light Cameras

Kaye Beach

Nov. 8, 2012

A little post-election good news for liberty lovers.  3 cities vote to ban the scameras!

From the Nov. 7, 2012

Tuesday proved to be another bad day for photo enforcement firms as they lost further ground at the ballot box. Questions on whether red light cameras or speed cameras ought to be banned came before municipal voters in California, New Jersey, Texas and Washington state.

Voters in League City, Texas spoke loudest against the use of red light cameras. At the end of the evening, 77 percent of the electorate sent a message to the city council that they wanted the automated ticketing machines removed.

“There is absolutely no doubt now that voters in Texas have resoundingly rejected the entire premise of photo enforcement,” Byron Schirmbeck, director of League City Camera Scam, told TheNewspaper. “Five out of five times that voters in diverse cities and towns have been given a chance to have their say at the ballot box the cameras have been rejected by as much as 77 percent.”

The message was reinforced with photo enforcement foes pulling off a clean sweep against incumbent city council members. Heidi Thiess defeated the number-one camera supporter, Councilman Mick Phalen, and Geri Bentley ousted Councilman Phyllis Sanborn who had voted to approve the camera contract. Todd Kinsey opposes cameras heads to a run off after landing 49.9 percent of the vote against two other candidates for an open council seat.

The most hotly contested battle took place in Murrieta, California where Tea Party activist Diana Serafin worked a continuous, door-to-door campaign to secure enough signatures to put a red light camera ban on the ballot. ATS and arch-rival Redflex Traffic Systems teamed up to defeat her effort, spending heavily on campaign mailers designed to convince people to support photo ticketing. It did not work.

“People told me they don’t believe anything on the five flyers sent out,” Serafin wrote in an email to supporters. “I made sure to tell everyone how much money the camera companies invested to fight me. They spend $105,000 to my $2000!”

Read more

New Mexico: City Shuts Off Water, Sewer for Photo Ticket Nonpayment

Kaye Beach

April, 27, 2o12

Now how is this logical?  Answer:  It isn’t!  Since the circumstances neither warrant nor call for the cutting of vital services for non-payment of a traffic fine, it is bullying plain and simple.  I hope the people of Las Cruces gets a hold of their city government fast!


New Mexico: City Shuts Off Water, Sewer for Photo Ticket Nonpayment

Las Cruces, New Mexico is threatening to cut off water, gas and sewer service over unpaid red light and speed camera tickets.

With more and more vehicle owners simply deciding refuse to pay red light camera and speed camera tickets, private, for-profit companies and municipalities are growing increasingly desperate. America’s second-largest city shut down its photo ticketing program last year largely because residents who could not afford the $500 citations did not pay them. On Monday, Las Cruces, New Mexico announced it would shut off the utilities of city residents who refused to pay Redflex Traffic Systems, the Australian company that owns and operates the cameras.

“The city is notifying offenders by mail that they have until the due date stated in the letter to pay the fines or make satisfactory payment arrangements,” a Las Cruces press release warned. “Failure to comply will result in termination of utilities services.”

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“Pettigrew was pitching the deal’ says former InsureNet lobbyist

Kaye Beach

April 19, 2012

In a new article published this week by the Claremore Daily Progress, Chad ALexander, former InsureNet Lobbyist comes forward with more information about District 2 congressional candidate, Wayne Pettigrew’s activities with the infamous “spy cam” insurance verification company, Insurenet.

Pettigrew acted as a lobbyist from 2009 to the middle of the 2010 Oklahoma Legislative Session, according to Alexander.

Pettigrew somehow still maintains that he was not a lobbyist for InsureNet despite his activities which can only be described as lobbying.

It started with the Governor’s office. They were getting the green light to move forward,” Alexander said.

As the reporter explained in the  first article, Lobbyist or not? Wayne Pettigrew’s InsureNet connection under scrutiny,

According to Oklahoma laws pertaining to lobbying, one can serve as a lobbyist by representing the interests of a client before government officials or enable such work as a “lobbyist principle,” that is a person who “employs or retains another person for financial or other compensation to conduct lobbying activities on behalf of the lobbyist principle.”

Pettigrew did both and admits that he was to receive a percentage amounting to hundreds of thousands of dollars, upon securing a contract with a state to use the InsureNet insurance verification system.

Incidentally, this is a system that would have had ALPR license tag scanning camera to capture every driver’s license plate along with the date, location and time when it was captured, to verify insurance status.  Pattigrew also maintains that this system in no way, would have been an invasion of privacy.

Mr. Alexander correctly sums up Pettigrew’s activities in this way;

Part of the problem with Pettigrew’s activities according to Alexander is that in Oklahoma lobbyists are not allowed to operate on a pay for play basis.

“The fact is that in Oklahoma you can not have a contingency based contract,” Alexander said, “Just because he did not get paid does not mean he was not attempting to get the system passed.”

Just because Pettigrew did not make a contract does not mean he was not breaking the rules for attempting to do so, according to Alexander.

But according to the article;

Pettigrew continues to maintain that his role was “that of a business consultant promoting a service that he believed was beneficial to the state of Oklahoma and other states and that the program provided greater privacy protections than the system in place currently.”

“This service was competitively bid by the state of Oklahoma and the company that I promoted was not chosen,” Pettigrew said.

However, the fact that InsureNet, the company that Pettigrew was “promoting” never secured a contract for it’s ‘spy cam’ based service didn’t stop him from testifying before Pennsylvania House members on March 2, 2010 that Oklahoma (and two other states) were “currently in the implementation process” (see the Pennsylvania House of Representatives transcript pg 30)

What does “currently implementing” mean to you?

I referred to Mr. Pettigrew in a recent post as being “truthy”  I think that I was being much too generous.

What do you think?


Read the entire article by Salesha Wilken,  Pettigrew disputes lobbyist claims


England May Use Gas-Station Cameras to Snag Uninsured Motorists

Kaye Beach

March 15, 2012

Neato!  Another great use for the spy cams!

England May Use Gas-Station Cameras to Snag Uninsured Motorists

Cameras would check license plates against a government database before switching on the pump.

Whether we like it or not — and whether we realize it or not — surveillance cameras track much of our movements these days. Now, the British government is considering using these electronic eyes to spy on and snag uninsured motorists and unregistered vehicles at the gas pump and keep them from filling up.

British newspaper The Mirror reports that a government proposal would require that cameras at gas stations verify whether a vehicle is insured and registered before the fuel can flow. The infrastructure for automatic license-plate recognition is already in place at thousands of the country’s gas stations to curb driving off without paying. Under the proposed new measure, cameras would be connected to the national Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency databases to catch scofflaws.

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Illinois: Local Official Charged with Traffic Camera Corruption

Dec 28, 2011

Reported by The

The village of Bellwood, Illinois claims its former comptroller signed a red light camera contract for personal financial gain.

A former village manager accused last week of corruption as part of a scandal that included the signing of a lucrative red light camera contract. Bellwood, Illinois filed the complaint in Cook County circuit court accusing Roy F. McCampbell of running village finances into the ground as he had control of the budget between 2005 and 2009 as comptroller, public safety director and corporation counsel. He was paid more than $1.5 million over this period, ending 2009 with a salary of $449,312.

“Defendant acted with reckless disregard for the rights and interests of the village in the performance of his duties while a village employee,” the sworn complaint stated. “As a result of his willful, wanton, and/or reckless conduct, the village suffered economic and non-economic damages.”

Among McCampbell’s highest-profile projects in office was the installation of red light cameras. McCampbell touted the program to colleagues in the Illinois Municipal League in 2007, urging them to follow his lead. He explained such systems deliver a major monetary payoff for localities when properly managed.

“Probably our best producing intersection, which is a little bit like a lotto or casino type of operation, has been an intersection where we have the right turn on red light,” McCampbell explained. “We’re probably running 40 or 45 percent of the tickets at that intersection are right turn on red.”

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When the Cops are Worried About Your Privacy-You Should Worry Too!

Kaye Beach

Dec 5. 2011

I imagine somebody is making a mountain of money off of this deal.  It will be ordinary travelers along with the cops on the beat that will end up paying the interest on this foolish plan.

In today’s world, your information is VALUABLE and your rights are CHEAP.

GATSO USA Forms Unique, Strategic Partnership with Nlets

Earlier this month, GATSO USA was approved as a strategic partner by the Board of Directors of the National Law Enforcement Telecommunications System (Nlets).  Nlets is the nation’s premier interstate network for the exchange of critical law enforcement, criminal justice, and public safety-related information. Supporting every agency at the state, local and federal level. . .

The approval of GATSO is an exciting first for the photo-enforcement industry.

Nlets will be hosting GATSO’s back office and server operations within the Nlets infrastructure. GATSO will have access to registered owner information for all 50 states plus additional provinces in Canada. The strategic relationship has been described as a “win-win” for both organizations.

. . .From GATSO’s perspective, hosting the system with Nlets will provide a ruggedized, robust connection to comprehensive registered owner information.

. . .Nlets was created over 40 years ago by the principal law enforcement agencies of the States. Today, it serves law enforcement agencies in all of the United States and territories, all Federal agencies with a justice component, selected international agencies, as well as a variety of strategic partners — all cooperatively exchanging data. (Emphasis mine) The types of data exchanged vary from motor vehicle and drivers’ data, to Canadian and Interpol databases, state criminal history records, and driver license and corrections images.

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Here are some of NLETS’ “strategic partners”

REDFLEX (Red Light (S)camera company)

OnStar (your on board eavesdropping and tracking device)

BioKey (biometric company)

and an old Oklahoma favorite,  InsureNet











The following is from the ‘Nowhere to Hide’ Blog (A site that says it is ‘ for cops by cops’)The writer reviews a few basic facts of the situation and asks some obvious questions that really illuminate this liberty and privacy travesty that is happening right under our noses.

“Should we be worried” he asks.  Worried?!  Worried is an understatement.

As the author notes, this endeavor involves;

. . . innovative use of technolgy for law enforcement, a psuedo-government agency (Nlets), two foreign-owned private companies, and LOTS of PII sharing.- some might even say it had all the makings of a Will Smith movie “

Security, Privacy, and Innovative Law Enforcement Information Sharing: Covering the bases

Excepts from, published Feb 6, 2011;

The main points I took away from this press release were:

  1. Nlets is going to host the back-end server technology that GATSO needs to look up vehicle registration information of red-light runners;
  2. Gatso is going to have access to vehicle registration information for all vehicles/owners in ALL 50 states in the U.S. and (some) provinces in Canada; and
  3. And, because it’s behind Nlets firewalls, security is not an issue.

. . .After I read the press release, I thought that it would be a good case-study for the topic of this blog – it involved innovative use of technolgy for law enforcement, a psuedo-government agency (Nlets), two foreign-owned private companies, and LOTS of PII sharing – some might even say it had all the makings of a Will Smith movie.

To help set the stage, here are a few facts I found online:

  • Gatso-USA is a foreign company, registered in New York State, operating out of Delaware; its parent company is a Dutch company, GATSOmeter BVGatso.
  • Gatso does not appear to vet all of the red-light/speed violations itself; it uses another company – Redflex Traffic Systems to help with that (Redflex is not mentioned in the press release).
  • Redflex seems to be a U.S. company, but it has a (foreign) parent company based in South Melbourne, Australia.
  • Finally, there are no-sworn officers involved in violation processing. Red-light/speed enforcement cameras are not operated by law enforcement agencies; they outsource that to Gatso, who installs and operates the systems for local jurisdictions (with Redflex) for free, (Gatso/Redflex is given a piece of the fine for each violation).

BUT what is new here is that a sort-of-government agency (Nlets), has now provided two civilian companies (with foreign connections) access to Personally Identifiable Information (PII) (vehicle registrations) for the entire U.S. and parts of Canada…should we be worried?

Here are nine questions I would ask:

  1. Personnel Security: Will Nlets have a documented process to vet the U.S. and overseas Gatso and Redflex staff who will have access to this information through direct or VPN access to Nlets systems?
  2. Data Security: Will Gatso or Redflex maintain working/test copies of any of the registration information outside of the Nlets firewall? If so, are there documented ways to make sure this information is protected outside the firewall?
  3. Data Access: Will Gatso/Redflex have access to the entire registration record? or, will access be limited to certain fields?
  4. Code Security: Will any of the code development or code maintenance be done overseas in the Netherlands or Australia? If so, will all developers be vetted?
  5. Network Security: Will overseas developers/site suport staff have access to the data behind Nlets firewalls? What extra precautions will be taken to protect Nltes systems/networks from abuse/attack?
  6. Code Security: Will Nlets conduct any security testing on code loaded on the servers behind their firewalls?
  7. Stakeholder Support: Have all 50 U.S. states, and provinces in Canada, been made aware of this new information sharing relationship? Do they understand all of the nuances of the relationship? And, are they satisfied that their constituents personal information will be protected?
  8. Audit/Logging: Will all queries to vehicle registration information logged? Is someone checking the logs? How will Nlets know if abuses of authorized access are taking place?
  9. Public Acceptance: How do states inform their constituents that their personal vehicle registration information is being made available to foreign owned company? Will they care?

How these questions are answered will determine whether or not we should worry…

Read more

NMA Bets Cities 10,000 Dollars that Simple Solutions Work Better than Red Light Cams

Kaye Beach

Nov. 26, 2011

If you do some research, I bet you will come up at least a little skeptical about those Red Light Cameras. There are some very simple ways to reduce dangerous red light running that does not involve the corrupting influence of the revenue enhancement devices which provide perverse incentives for NOT fixing easily correctable engineering issues that lead to the running of red lights in the first place.  Why treat the symptoms while ignoring the disease?

If you have an intersection where motorists in large numbers are blazing through reds, chances are that unless a large portion of the population suddenly became suicidal, there’s a simple engineering fix for that problem.

The National Motorists Association has been outspoken in their criticism of red light cameras and for good reason.  They know how to fix the problem and they have proven that their solutions work time and again.  So why aren’t cities clamoring for such inexpensive and effective solutions?

The NMA has now issued a challenge betting any city $10,000 that the solutions that they propose can get the job of reducing red light running done as well as the cameras or better.

 Group does not expect takers

The NMA, according to USA Today, isn’t holding its breath for a city to take it up on its bet. The group believes that because red light cameras are so profitable, no city is willing to risk its “gravy train.” According to a Jersey Journal article on, Jersey City, N.J., expects to make up to $7 million per year from its newly installed red light camera systems. The city of Atlanta, Ga., made $1.5 million from its red light cameras during 2009 and 2010, according to CBSAtlanta.

Read more –

National Motorists Association issues red light camera challenge

Red-light traffic camera deals under scrutiny

Oct 27, 2011

Larry Copeland, USA TODAY reports;

Local governments hungry for revenue are signing contracts with red-light camera companies that put profit over traffic safety, according to a new study by a national public interest advocacy group.

Some contracts restrict police from doing things like lengthening the yellow signal and leave taxpayers holding the bag if the contracts are terminated early, says the report from the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, the federation of state public interest research groups.

“The most problematic contracts require cities to share revenue with the camera vendor on a per-ticket basis or through other formulas as a percentage of revenue,” the group says. “In other words, the more tickets a camera system issues, the more profit the vendor collects.”

“It just creates this really broad incentive to fine as many people as you can,” says Phineas Baxandall, a co-author of the report. “That’s not a good safety model.”

Read more

Sept. 26 2011 Oklahoma Begins the License Plate Interoperability Hub Pilot

Kaye Beach

Sept. 8, 2011

ALPR or Automatic License Plate Recognition is a technology being used for mass surveillance  You may be familiar with these devices as “spy cams, an accurate nickname for the devices.

License-plate recognition is a function of highly specialized software programs that allow computers to;

1)    take photographs of automobile traffic provided by video surveillance cameras,

2)     focus upon the license plate of each and every vehicle that’s been photographed,

3)    “read” and record the series of numbers and/or letters imprinted on the plate, and  check to see if and how this information is contained in the (various) database(s). Such checks can identify plates/cars/drivers who have arrest warrants, expired registrations, or cars reported as stolen,

4)     can bill ordinary, law-abiding citizens for their use of highways or border-crossings,

5)     can be done in a matter of seconds, and can be done (again) when another camera is encountered

8)    allows the (various) database(s) to keep track of the movements, destinations, and speeds of plates/cars/drivers who have been identified (i.e., all of them).

Mass Surveillance is “The pervasive surveillance of an entire population, or a substantial fraction thereof”

Back in 2010, Oklahoman’s were outraged to find that then Governor Henry had planned on installing some 200 of these spy cams around the state ostensibly to be used to catch uninsured motorists (which nearly everyone detests) and fine them for their lapses.  I say ostensibly because these little spy cams are versatile and there was every indication that plans were being laid for using them for so much more!

As I pointed out in 2010;

Why do we need ALPR???

Uninsured motorists?  Sure but here is where the real money is!  This is why these devices are so important to the state. With interoperability and ubiquitous cameras, our government can charge us every time our wheels roll if they want.

The system will also be great for all sorts of fines and fees.  Really anything that can be attached to your motor vehicle records could be collected through the ALPR system.  Rather like the “deadbeat dad” DMV SSN racket.  In some states they already use these things to collect back taxes.  What are you going to do?  Walk?  No.  This is why state motor vehicle agencies never have a problem with debt.  No pay-no drive.  No work, no visits, no R and R.  We have to have our vehicles!

Beginning this month, Oklahoma will be participating in a License Plate Interoperability Pilot Program.  From Sept. 26-Dec 26 2011 seven to eight tolling authorities will collect and pool all license plate and associated data captured Read more

“The hubs will centralize accessing databases of vehicles and owner addresses and accounts to reduce the costs and improve the efficiency of collecting tolls.”

Here are the participating groups;

E-470 CO, Florida Turnpike, MdTA, NTTA, Oklahoma Turnpike, TCA Orange Co CA, Washington DOT. link

It is worth reiterating what I have said about this in the past;

It is not a new manner of charging for tolls that bothers me so much.  It is the fact that spy cameras are going to be the method of charging and that the data collected for this purpose will be kept and used for a number of other purposes such as intelligence gathering.

. . .the charging will not likely be limited to simply tolling.  Mileage and usage taxes based on zones and time of day, video enabled ticketing and a vast array of other creative revenue enhancement are part and parcel of the ALPR scamera plan.


But you are a law abiding person, right?  Why should you worry?

You should worry because these systems track everybody and policing today is not just about catching the criminal.  Now it’s “predictive policing” and in order to predict what individuals may do in the future, you have to have lots of data on everyone.

Elliot D. Cohen, Ph.D who has written a book on where we are fast heading if we don’t snap out of our complacency about technological surveillance. He does a great job at showing us the bigger picture.

“Basically what I’m saying is that there’s evidence for thinking that we’re moving in a direction of a controlled society, a controlled culture. It isn’t that we’re one hundred percent there, but there are dangerous trends, and if we don’t do anything to offset them, then we really will be in some serious trouble.” link

Another snippet from Dr. Cohen’s writings;

“Unfortunately, the prognosis for the survival of the free world is quite bleak if the stated trends are not stopped very soon.  It is the ever constant creep of a culture of control that presents the most insidious danger.  As we begin to accept increasingly greater and greater restrictions on our civil liberties, the technology to further abridge these liberties continues to expand and lead the way to even greater abridgements.  This process is subtle and we are not likely to notice that our freedom is gone until it is too late, or maybe not even then.  In the end, we may consider ourselves a “free” people but have little understanding of what that even means.” Mass Surveillance and State Control: The Total Information Awareness Project



Here is a list of questions that need to be asked about your data that is being collected on Oklahoma’s toll roads;


  • What specifically will the cameras be used for?
  • What makes using these surveillance devices the best of all possible enforcement options?
  • What other capabilities are inherent with this system?
  • Do any agencies in or state or nation have any plans for future uses of this system?
  • What specific information will be collected through this system?
  • What other data can/will be combined or attached to the data collected by this system?
  • What system is used to transmit or store this data?
  • What other agencies (list) have access to the system used to transmit or store this data?
  • Under what conditions is this information going to be shared?
  • How are funds from fines collected due to this system distributed?
  • What company/companies were the proposal sent to? What and how many databases will the LPR be connected to?
  • Who will have access to the data, and by what means?
  • Should drivers expect this system to be utilized for the purpose of charging them mileage/usage/congestion fees?
  • How long would images/data be retained?


The Oklahoma Turnpike Authority can be contacted at

Telephone:  405-425-3600
Hours: Monday – Friday 7:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. CST

Fax:  405-427-8246


If you have trouble getting answers from the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority (which has been my expericence)  your elected state representatives might have better luck.

House members here

Senate members here

If you don’t know who your representative is, click here


Delaware Pilots Mass Surveillance Devices for Revenue Enhancement

Kaye Beach

August 8, 2011

Delaware gets some fancy new mass surveillance tracking and revenue enhancement devices namely ALPR or Automatic License Plate Recognition.

One of the main concerns voiced  by Delawares pesky privacy pirates is ‘where will the data collected by these spy scameras go’?

It’s not just Delaware either.  Most of these these tracking, monitoring, and revenue enhancement schemes are either already in use in your community or look for them to be coming soon.  All a part of Intelligence Led Policing, the technology and data dependent form of policing/intelligence embraced shortly after 9 11.

We are all “share” like Barney now.



State troopers used to park behind billboards or underpasses as they quickly typed the license-plate numbers of passing cars into computers to find scofflaws.They were lucky to record the plates of 50 passing motorists per shift.But that’s changing because of new technology that allows them to instantly check license plates to see if motorists owe everything from traffic fines to back taxes. And they can check up to 900 plates per minute.

“I can drive 55 mph on I-95 and I can pass a parked car on the shoulder and I can still read that tag,” said state police Cpl. Todd Duke, who has the device — known as a License Plate Recognition (LPR) system — mounted onto his patrol car. “With the new technology, as the machine is operating, I’m able to scan a license plate and immediately read the plate to determine if it is stolen and/or suspended.”LPR is one of the latest surveillance systems officials across the state have started using. They range from red-light cameras to facial-recognition software.

. . .Data collected by troopers will be stored and managed by the state department of technology and information for one year. After that, the data will be retained in an archive database for up to five years, depending on system storage capacity, to assess the validity and operational efficiency of LPRs, said Kimberly Holland Chandler of the state Department of Safety and Homeland Security.State police conducting active investigations will have access to the data, Chandler said. Other law-enforcement agencies also could be granted access.

. . .

Many uses for scans

The LPR system, which is still in the pilot stage, is a collaboration between the state Division of Motor Vehicles and Department of Safety & Homeland Security.

It began after officials noticed the number of uninsured motorists in Delaware reached about 10 percent, Schiliro said. The solution was to tie in the DMV’s uninsured database to a state police license-plate reader system. Once that was solved, they began seeing possibilities for other problems, including tracking people who have not paid tolls or are wanted for other crimes.

. . .You can use it for a lot of different things,” Schiliro said. “You can use it for parking violators, stolen vehicles.”State police began using the system at sobriety checkpoints because of the number of cars that pass through them.

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