Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Cooking The Books For Photo Enforcement




By Eric Skrum, NMA Communications Director

A recent article in The Daily Courier made the claim that the various photo enforcement programs in Arizona are losing money.

“To uncover the truth about one of law enforcement’s most controversial traffic-controlling strategies, the Courier contacted each of the six Arizona municipalities currently using photo radar and discovered one common truth: from Scottsdale to Paradise Valley, they all are losing money every year.”

The problem with this statement is that it isn’t true. There are quite a few ways to hide the fact that the cities are making money. One of the most blatant accounting lies was uncovered in Arizona v. Gillespie.

These cities are counting the salaries of officers who are supposed to review camera tickets, but the truth is, THEY DO NOT review anything.

In Arizona v. Gillespie, the court ruled:

“In the matter before this court, the certifier/complainant, Bill Harper, testified that he does not see the complaint before the computer signs it, and that no one compares the photo on the photo radar record with the photo on the putative defendant’s driver’s license. Harper stated that he does not compare the photos unless he is preparing for trial and that the only time the prosecutor’s office will procure the driver’s license photo for him to make a comparison is when an attorney has filed a notice of appearance. Harper further testified that in non-attorney trials, a defendant’s driver’s license photo is not obtained at all.

“Under this system, no one can certify with the slightest degree of accuracy or truthfulness that the person receiving the ticket is the actual driver. There is no human involvement in the certification process whatsoever. The procedure clearly violates A.R.S. § 28-1561.”— Arizona v. Gillespie, Superior Court of Arizona-Maricopa County, 10/21/2005. Lower Court Case No. PR200500555

If you take out the salary of the officer who is supposed to be reviewing these citations, but isn’t, suddenly the cities show a profit. This isn’t the only trick the cities are using to cook the books, but it is the easiest to document.

What is really telling is that these cities feel the need to hide the profits from these cameras. If they are playing with their numbers to show an economic loss, does this really inspire confidence in their numbers that illustrate the cameras are effective in decreasing accidents?

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