Why MADD Should Oppose Red-Light and Speed Cameras

A red light camera in Chicago, USA.

Why do we enforce laws?  Is it to deter crime and make our communities safer, or do we enforce laws to increase our city coffers?  This question is playing itself out throughout the United States as many cities are installing speed and red-light cameras.  Locally, the city of Springfield, Ohio has a long-standing photo enforcement program and Dayton is planning to install cameras in the downtown area.  Studies suggest that the cameras may actually increase collisions, but the revenue is hard to turn down.

I recently came across an article from NOLA.com warning motorists of increased traffic stops in and around Algiers, Louisiana.  The justification for the increased enforcement was the multiple benefits gained by police interaction with citizens and the resulting deterrent effect on crime. (see full article HERE).  Quoting from the article,

Police Superintendent Ronal Serpas has found that about 33 percent to 36 percent of the homicides and shootings in the city involve suspects who were transported to and from the scene by car. Consequently, if police have more contact with the public through traffic stops, it increases the chances that officers will intercept criminals before or after crimes occur.

While police in Algiers, Louisiana are stepping up enforcement in an effort to deter crime, nearby New Orleans is taking a different tack.  New Orleans is doubling-down on its investment in speed and red-light cameras.  The Pelican Post reports (full article HERE),

The New Orleans Annual Operating Budget indicates that the city government has increased its reliance on revenue from red light and speed cameras to cover holes in the operating budget. Revenue from red light cameras, for example, has increased from $3.4 million in 2008 to a projected $18 million in 2011, an increase of 419 percent. As a percentage of the total general fund, red light cameras alone now account for 3.6 percent in 2011, up from 0.7 percent in 2008. Revenue from all fines is set to comprise 7.5 percent of the general fund.

If we trust and believe what these officers are touting as a successful deterrent of crime, then we must also assume that fewer police interactions will result in increased crime.  Fewer police on the streets patrolling for traffic infractions will also result in fewer DUI arrests because there is a reliance on cameras rather than on manpower.  As Algiers Police Chief Kouts said “officers will still be bound by laws regarding “reasonable suspicion” and “probable cause,” but noted that police actually have a lot of latitude when it comes to traffic stops, ranging from driving violations to equipment problems.”  Thus, reliance on traditional and Constitutional police work can and will work to reduce crime.

And here is where MADD can play an integral part in stopping red light and speed cameras.  While in its last gasps as a relevant societal entity, MADD has enormous governmental lobbying experience.  If they stand up for officers as a deterrent to crime, rather than acquiescing to governmental desire to turn crime into a source of revenue, their voice could be an important one against this scary “BIG BROTHER” type of enforcement.  MADD could find itself on the side of police and traditional American values instead of calling for increasingly unpopular and un-American ideas like alcohol-detectors in all cars and lowering the BAC to .05%.

Dayton DUI attorney Charles M. Rowland II dedicates his practice to defending the accused drunk driver.  He has the credentials and the experience to win your case and has made himself Dayton’s choice for DUI defense.  Contact Charles Rowland by phone at 937-318-1DUI (937-318-1384), 937-879-9542, or toll-free at 1-888-ROWLAND (888-769-5263).  For after-hours help contact our 24/7 DUI HOTLINE at 937-776-2671.  For information about Dayton DUI sent directly to your mobile device, text DaytonDUI (one word) to 50500.  Follow DaytonDUI on Twitter @DaytonDUI or Get Twitter updates via SMS by texting DaytonDUI to 40404. DaytonDUI is also available on Facebook, www.facebook.com/daytondui.  You can also email Charles Rowland at: CharlesRowland@CharlesRowland.com or write to us at 2190 Gateway Dr., Fairborn, Ohio 45324.