Amid Dissent, Red-Light Camera Call Sent

goldson1.4.JPGThe Board of Aldermen passed a resolution supporting red light cameras, but not before a freshman legislator objected—and sparked a possible new spirit of vigorous debate.

West Rock Alderman Darnell Goldson (pictured), who just took office, led an unsuccessful charge Monday against the resolution, which urges the state to allow cities to use cameras to catch people who run red lights.

His opposition sparked an unusually in-depth discussion at the board’s first meeting of the 2010-2011 term, setting the stage for a lively two years of legislative discourse.

Safe streets activists and the police chief heralded the resolution at a public hearing in December, where a committee gave it unanimous approval. At that hearing, about a dozen people spoke in favor. None opposed.

The DeStefano Administration would like to use the cameras to capture the license plates of red-light runners, then send them tickets in the mail. The aldermen’s resolution doesn’t set anything into law. It asks the state legislature to give cities the option of implementing their own red-light camera enforcement programs. City officials and some aldermen are gearing up to lobby the state Capitol a second time, after a similar red light camera law failed last legislative session. (Click here for a background story.)

As the aldermanic resolution came up for a final vote Monday, East Rock Aldermen Justin Elicker and Roland Lemar praised it as a key tool in a movement to create safer streets.

Then Goldson stood to speak. He posed questions none of his colleagues could answer: How many traffic injuries and deaths in New Haven are caused by red-light runners? Is there evidence the cameras would make the streets safer?

Goldson asked the board to hold off on passing the resolution until those questions are answered. He urged them to “slow down” before issuing public support to a law that could lead to a loss of privacy rights further down the line.

“I don’t see what the rush is,” he said.

He said he ran for alderman partly because people have the impression that the board makes decisions without full information, rushing into decisions that have lasting impact.

Goldson made a motion to send the resolution back to committee for further examination.

Fair Haven Alderman Alex Rhodeen countered that there was no “legislation” on the table, merely a public statement of support. Aldermen will have plenty of time to publicly debate the specifics if the state passes a red-light camera law, he noted. Before the city introduces any red-light cameras, it would have to draft, debate, and approve a new ordinance.

Goldson wasn’t convinced. He asked why aldermen needed to approve a resolution pledging the support of the full board—especially when several board members had a problem with the stance.

Newhallville Alderman Charles Blango said he worries that his community would be affected more than others by a red-light runner crackdown. He supported Goldson’s quest for more information, and seconded the motion to send the matter back to committee.

Lemar conceded there is “no rush” to this particular resolution. But he said the resolution got a fair hearing, and any further questions will be answered at the appropriate time—after the state passes a red-light camera law, and the city sits down to approve details of a local red-light camera enforcement plan. He said the topic is an urgent one, given the daily dangers of New Haven streets.

After much back and forth, Yale Alderman Mike Jones, a red light camera supporter, called for an end to the debate. Aldermen agreed to stop talking and take a vote.

Goldson’s motion to send the item back to committee failed by a margin of 6 to 23.

Not giving up in his quest to stall the resolution, he put forward a motion to table the item. That failed, too.

Goldson then made a personal plea. He said his father was the victim of illegal wiretapping by New Haven police. Goldson’s father was one of thousands. The 1960s-era New Haven operation—considered the most intensive illegal policy spying on political activists and dissidents in a period when local similar “red squads” operated throughout the country—cost the city $1.75 million in a class-action lawsuit settlement.

Goldson ticked off a series of incidents of government abuse of civil rights—Japanese American internment in the wake of the Pearl Harbor attack, the Tuskegee syphilis experiment on black sharecroppers—and warned against making the wrong decision.

“I love my city, ... but I don’t always trust my government,” Goldson said. He urged the board not to issue a general approbation of a red light camera law without nailing down specifics that the board agrees with.

Hill Alderwoman Andrea Jackson-Brooks stood with him. She urged her colleagues to write their own letter instead of issuing a resolution on behalf of the board.

The debate took up the large part of the hour-long meeting—a rarity at the full board meetings. Usually, debate on specific bills takes place only at a public hearing before an aldermanic committee. When aldermen meet as a full board for a final vote, they tend to take quick votes without saying much.

Aldermen approved the red light camera resolution by a voice vote, with a handful of aldermen dissenting.

Board of Alderman President Carl Goldfield said he voted in favor because he has watched too many drivers barreling through red lights around town.

He said Monday was an indication of a new tenor on the board, which has eight new aldermen. There has rarely been this level of “full-blown debate” at full board meetings, he said. He praised the new aldermen for their enthusiasm.

With the new aldermen on board, he said, “these meetings can be a lot more interesting.”

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posted by: concernedwestvilleres on January 5, 2010  10:43am

The Aldermen spend 2 hours debating whether to send a resolution supporting the proposing of a law allowing cities to install red light cameras.  Will this resolution make a difference with the state legislature?  They seem to thumb their noses at the big cities.  So why waste 2 hours debating whether to support a resolution asking the state to allow cities to install red light cameras and instead personally lobby the state reps and senators to introduce and push the law.  Our tax dollars at work - and people wonder why some people are giving up on New Haven.  Let’s focus on real problems the Board can work on resolving such as crime, high property taxes, businesses such as UI leaving the city, etc.

posted by: HewNaven?? on January 5, 2010  10:50am

Wow! While I don’t necessarily agree with Goldson, et al., I am very impressed with the fact that he spurred a debate on an important issue. Isn’t that what it’s all about? (Leadership, that is, not the ‘Hokey Pokey’).

I hope this trend continues in the New Year. It will prove that effectiveness in government does not come from lack of dissent. You can disagree and still be productive. The objective of representative government is to hear all opinions, and explore all possible avenues. Of course, the majority still is favored. ((Sigh))

posted by: AndersonScooper on January 5, 2010  10:55am

Yes, this legislation will help stop red-light runners, and save lives.

How many cars are T-boned annually in New Haven? I don’t know. But the driving behavior I witness daily in New Haven is simply atrocious.

Being new to this debate, maybe Alderman Goldson doesn’t realize that almost all the $$$ from moving violations goes directly to the State, and not the City. (yes, it’s assinine, but only $10/ticket comes back to New Haven.) Therefore this financially hard-pressed city has limited money for traffic enforcement, making this kind of technology attractive.

And yes, proponents understand the privacy concerns. But if you dig into the details you’ll see that the proposed law does a good job of addressing them.

PS—If any of the opposing alderpeople want to join me at rush hour, I’d be happy to show them the exact kind of reckless driving this measure seeks to curb.

posted by: R on January 5, 2010  11:01am

To follow off the last comment -
Crime is tied in with the culture of lawlessness and aggression that thrives here on the streets Of NH. Red-light running is maybe a symptom, but the behavior also breeds more bad behavior as people come to believe the law does not apply to them. Chief Perotti showed us that routine traffic stops for speeding and small offenses turned up guns, drugs and criminals. No, the red light cameras won’t sniff out guns, but it will show scofflaws the city means business in keeping its residents safer. We need to send a message to lawbreakers that our city won’t tolerate it any longer, and RLC’s are just one small way. As for privacy issues, I think that’s just an excuse. The laws are on the table. The city has given us all the chance to behave and not endanger ourselves and others, and we failed, so the law must be enforced in order to keep it from becoming the Wild West out there. I was almost hit by a red-light runner. I hope the new alderman never gets put in that position, or worse. Does he not drive around NH?! Is he blind?!

posted by: East Rockette on January 5, 2010  11:03am

Red light cameras are great. They’ve worked everywhere else I’ve lived. And by “worked” I mean swiftly and drastically changed drivers’ behavior for the better, and made the streets safer for everyone - walkers, bikers, other drivers.

In a city where a stop light is often regarded - even by law enforcement officers - as merely a suggestion, red light cameras are probably the only way to systematically correct years of learned bad behavior. If Mr Goldson has a better idea of how to do this, I’d love to hear it! In the meantime, bring ‘em on.

posted by: Darnell on January 5, 2010  11:03am

ConcernedWestvillers:

Exactly the point I was trying to make last evening. The Aldermen who are interested in this issue could have very easily as individuals or a group wrote a letter to their legislators. As I said last evening, for several years the state legislature has killed any proposal for red light cameras, the last vote was in the P&D committee, 14 against, 3 in favor. There clearly is not support for this in Hartford, so why continue to send the same proposal to them.

I wanted to make it clear to anyone listening that I would not sign on to the practice of “fiddling while Rome burned”. It is time for some real debate on real issues, and as long as this kind of stuff continues, I will oppose it.

The three issue you mentioned are important, and need action. Thanks for your comments.

posted by: The Professor on January 5, 2010  11:19am

“Goldson ticked off a series of incidents of government abuse of civil rights ó Japanese American internment in the wake of Pearl Harbor attack, the Tuskegee syphilis experiment on black sharecroppers ó and warned against making the wrong decision.”

Ah yes.  Because once you allow red light cameras, forcible detention based on national origin and forced experimental exposure to deadly disease can’t be far off.  I think some of us can disagree on the merits, but the comparison here is characteristically overboard.  A fixed camera that only takes a shot when someone runs a red light is NOT the moral equivalent of internment or the syphilis experiments. Is it really debate if the argument isn’t on the merits?

posted by: streever on January 5, 2010  11:38am

As Anderson says, this bill was pushed not as a revenue generator but as a PROVEN safety improvement. I don’t have access to the stats right now but they were put on the public record by Mike Piscitelli at the State legislature.

What’s frustrating about the red light camera debate is the amount of re-dux—Goldson’s issues with it (and I’m not knocking him, I’m glad to see his concern & that he’s raising issues) have been extensively debated in the legislature and resolved.

Privacy concerns:
You have no right to privacy while driving your car. Driving is a regulated activity which is, by law, not a right but a priviledge. You have a right to privacy inside your own home (With the blinds drawn—it is perfectly legal to look inside your window from street level) and a right to privacy while on your phone. If you are using a public phone anyone may listen in.

Are accidents reduced?
Yes and no. There are a huge number of studies on this, all by people with competing interests. Long-term the cameras do seem to reduce red light running, which is important. Short-term they seem to increase *minor* rear-end collissions (fender benders). Short-term they seem to decrease *serious* and *fatal* accidents. Many opponents focus on the increase in fender benders, which is a ludicrous issue—it requires one to ignore the decrease in fatalities and the long-term overall improvement in safety.

Is red light running a serious issue in New Haven?
Yes. Again, I don’t have the #s, but I have read them extensively. Mike P has them, and they are part of the public record from the debate earlier this year at the Capital.

Other issues:
—ACLU claims that AAA opposes them. False. The AAA endorsed this legislation.

—Communities all over the world are dismantling them because they failed. False. Usage is increasing and legislation is enabling them in more communities.

—They are just revenue generators for the companies that make them. Not necessarily true. There are a variety of ways the fee structure can work, and the bills proposed to CT do not include pay offs for the companies that invented them.

Ultimately I understand the privacy concerns, and shared them to be honest, but was convinced that it is reasonable to assume that you can be punished for breaking the law. Laws against red light running exist due to the sheer damage that it causes when people drive dangerously, and it is perfectly valid for the state to enforce this law. If you commit a crime in a public place you can be videotaped and that videotape can be used as evidence. Why do people asssume they have so much more privacy when driving their car in public?

posted by: Darnell on January 5, 2010  11:46am

To the Professor:

When the police and the FBI were illegally wiretapping New Haven citizens, do you think that when they purchased the taping equipment, someone was in the background saying, “it’s only a tape recorder, what damage could it do?”

When the poor black folks in Tennessee were offered free health care, do you think that someone was saying “it’s free health care, what harm can it do?”

And now the argument is “it’s only cameras that only occasionally will take your picture, I’m sure our government will do the right thing, what harm can little ol’ cameras do?”

Well, history has proven what the harm can be. Someone should have been watching and warning about the possible harm in those situations. Someone will be now. So, why don’t you sit back and relax, with the knowledge that someone is watching your back.

Yes, it was debate, and yes, we debated the merits of the issue. I have several scientific studies that concluded accidents actually increased at intersections where red light cameras were installed. I do not have one study that says the opposite. So if this is a public safety issue, how is the public more safe if accidents increase. I asked the proponents that question, I did not get an answer.

posted by: Darnell on January 5, 2010  11:51am

Professor:

And by the way, your “forcible detention based on national origin” statement is incorrect. Those folks interned after Pearl Harbor were American citizens, their national origin was the USA, this is a very important point to make and remember.

posted by: DingDong on January 5, 2010  12:18pm

Darnell,

I think by “national origin” the Professor means ethnicity, not citizenship.  That’s usually what is meant by the term.

More importantly, are you saying that we should not trust the government to do anything?  It sounds like you should be opposed to President Obama’s health care proposal:  free health care—it could lead to death panels!  Or be opposed to gun control—the black helicopters will come and take us away!  We should abolish the police, since look what the police did to Rodney King!  Yes, the government can do terrible, illegal things, but more often than not, government can help rather than hurt. We need to have a sensible balance and design programs to make government work and work for us.  As Streever outlined in his post, these red light cameras can be designed to be a great thing for our community and so that they won’t be abused.

posted by: Darnell on January 5, 2010  12:59pm

DingDong:

Come on. I’m not completely opposed to government, and nothing I have said or written would even remotely lead to that conclusion. What was quoted in the article is what said and mean “I do not ALWAYS trust my government”, nor should you. Obama is not talking about FREE health care, he is talking about AFFORDABLE care.

I am opposed to gun control, why should law abiding citizens be denied the constitutional right to bear arms and protect themselves. And by the way, it is not too far fetched to believe that black helicopters will sweep folks away, Bush/Cheney have not been out of office that long yet.

And yes, those officers that abused Rodney Kind should have been fired, they were not.

“Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely.” One day those cameras will be used in a way that is outside of the parameters designed. Streever nor anyone else can guarantee otherwise.

posted by: Bruce on January 5, 2010  1:02pm

Darnell, are you saying that we should have banned tape recorders?  Should we ban cameras?  The harm comes from people misusing these technologies, not from the technologies themselves.  I will remind you that there are already many, many cameras taking pictures of you everywhere you go. I will also remind you that police can legally use this footage to help them solve crimes (for example when Annie Le was killed, police and FBI scoured hundreds of hours of footage).  I can take a picture of you in your car if I like, sorry but I have the legal right to do so.  So does a policeman.

So what are we arguing about here?  This is not a giant leap.  This is not enabling anybody, devious or not, to do anything they can’t already do in one way or another.  We are simply trying to apply existing technology to save lives.

posted by: Pat on January 5, 2010  1:02pm

Cameras don’t stop people from running a red light; they merely charge them money after the fact. That’s assuming the picture is clear and you can read the license plate. And assuming the plate isn’t stolen.

Should we expect people to pay up or will we further clog the courts with people fighting the tickets?

This is the lazy man’s approach to law enforcement. Let technology do it. But simple ticketing at random periods of time in random locations would be more effective. Why isn’t it being done?

Is Franz Kafka designing a culture where cameras watch citizens on the streets and drones direct killings overseas?

Is this what we want to become?

Cameras do have some limited utility, but at what price? If you don’t value your privacy, I do.

Studies have shown huge abuses of cameras, such as zeroing in on couples for prurient purposes or gazing down women’s dresses.

The debate about the use of cameras in lieu of the police force we pay heavy taxes for is a debate I want to have at every level of society and government.

The proponents of these technologies always promise more than they can deliver. More expensive toys that disappoint.

Remember, for all our high tech bombers, nuclear weaponry, submarines, world-wide military posts, CIA, FBI and moles, a few men hijacked some planes one day and took out the World Trade Center and attacked the Pentagon.

posted by: robn on January 5, 2010  1:03pm

R,

Maybe Yale University Police Chief Perotti can track down the York tow truck that ran a red light at Chapel and College last night and almost ran me over…..since his meathead officer sitting in his running vehicle (directly across the street facing me in perfect position for pursuit of the tow truck miscreant) didn’t seem to think it was important.

posted by: notimon on January 5, 2010  1:14pm

Are you people kidding me, the board of Aldermen are debating Cameras on red lights to help prevent accidents, while young African Americans males are dying almost at a daily rate to gun violence. Why not talk curfews, demanding the New Haven public schools, add as a part of their curriculum Anger Management and Conflict Resolution classes and peer to peer mediation if a child is suspended whether in school or out and it be required that the parents must attend the mediation before either student returns to the class room. After all, these murders are a direct result of someones anger and their failure to resolve conflicts. Why not talk about the Project Labor Agreement and demand that they not only hire New Haven City residents but demand that these residents who want to work the construction trades maintain employment for the duration of the project and be allowed to move to the next construction project that is governed by the PLA. How about an ordinance that will not allow Club owners in the downtown club district to have teens parties that are only setting up our children to think that clubbing is a way of life. Last but not least, how about a technical school for ex felons re entering society to learn carpentry, plumbing, electrical trades so that if the private sector decides not to hire them because of their back ground at least learning a trade they can do side work, or even start a small business.

posted by: Darnell on January 5, 2010  1:21pm

Ok, now this conversation is getting just plain silly. I suggested that we have a clear understanding of what we would be doing with the technology before we ask for authority to use it. The legislature has already voted down our proposal for the cameras. If we go back with the same proposal, guess what, we’ll get the same conclusion. A huge waste of time and resources. It’s that simple folks. No one has suggested banning tape recorders, I have not even suggested banning or removing the cameras we already have in place.

What I was saying last evening, and will say in the future, is that if you come to me with a proposal that is incomplete, and don’t have the answers to questions I pose, then don’t expect me to blindly support that proposal.

posted by: William Kurtz on January 5, 2010  1:27pm

No, red-light cameras aren’t syphilis or internment camps, but it’s entirely appropriate for Mr. Goldson to voice some skepticism about the uses to which this technology may be put and some of the potential problems surrounding it. Personally, I have come to the conclusion that they’re a good idea, but it wasn’t without a lot of thought about some of these very issues.  This isn’t the worst example of hyperbole I’ve ever seen.

To answer your question, Mr. Goldson, about how the public can be more safe if the number of accidents increases:  You have to first define what you mean by “more safe” and the units with which you will measure safety.  Personally, I would consider an intersection with 10 rear-end collisions resulting in minor injuries to be safer than one with 3 t-bone collisions or pedestrian crashes resulting in serious injuries or fatalities. 

Most of the research claiming an increase in accidents correlating with RLCs reflects an increase in rear-end collisions (I think; I don’t have time to undertake a comprehensive review right now).  It’s worth noting that typically, fault in a rear-end collision is attributed to the following driver.  In other words, a driver braking suddenly for fear of avoiding a red-light camera wouldn’t be involved in an accident if the following drive, who presumably would have even less likelihood of getting through the light before it turned, wasn’t following too close.

posted by: john on January 5, 2010  2:24pm

“Newhallville Alderman Charles Blango said he worries that his community would be affected more than others by a red-light runner crackdown.”

HUH?

Is it because his constituents are more likely to run red lights (=not law abiding), or…wait for it…because the CAMERAS are racially profiling? I wonder if Sharpton was on the horn again.

As for the red-running problem, it’s obvious to anyone who comes from out of town, particularly from out of state. Yes, there are probably way too many “no turn on red” signs, but it’s sick and weird that so many people here, of all colors of the rainbow, can’t read and/or don’t can’t see one color: RED.

posted by: streever on January 5, 2010  2:25pm

I agree with Kurtz: It’s perfectly valid for Darnell to bring up these issues, and they are definitely not the worst hyperbole I’ve seen either.

for instance, Pat above, writes that this is somehow leading to death-robots that are automated killing us citizens based on street monitoring. Pat, I can’t really speak to the robotic drones murdering people, but let’s think about this: if we allow soldiers to carry guns and shoot people, is it not logical that they will start murdering us citizens in the street? if we allow police to shoot in self-defense, is it not logical that they’ll shoot individuals for no reason?

No it isn’t logicial. It’s insane.

Cameras are already present EVERYWHERE: you are monitored on many streets in New Haven.

To date, I haven’t seen a single example of LEGAL public cameras being used to destory someone or hurt them.

Not one. Not a single one. No one has posited one at any of the hearings I’ve been at, nor have I seen proof of it online in these discussions.

Red light cameras have been in use for over a decade with no example whatsoever of them being used to abuse human rights.

Let’s be clear:

you have NO LEGAL RIGHT to privacy in public. Zero. Zip. I can set up a camera on my property and aim it at the street. Anyone can.

The ONLY thing that the bill/legislation is needed is for AUTOMATED ENFORCEMENT. Does that make sense to everyone?

the camera is a legal right already. It is the enforcement that is not.

posted by: DingDong on January 5, 2010  2:29pm

Darnell,

Fair enough - I think what you are saying is reasonable and we agree on the basics: that saying “government is good” or “government is bad” is not enough and we have to look at the specifics of certain plans to make sure privacy concerns are adequately in place or that the public benefit is enough to outweigh the negative effects. 

Where we disagree is simply on how this applies to red light cameras and how much evidence we can reasonably expect.  (We also disagree on gun control but that’s another matter).  I think that folks supporting this are reasonable people who have taken the potential for abuse of the technology seriously and will design a program to take into account privacy concerns.

Also, I’m don’t think the NHPD has statistics on how many people these cameras’ lives would save since it is expensive and time-consuming to develop those kinds of statistics.  Being an alderman is a tough job since more often than not there aren’t going to be perfect statistics to base decisions on.  Here, at least, the statistics exist from other communities.  And anyhow, I believe the state is considering a trial program—to test it out here in New Haven and see if they are effective.  I think if your concern is that we aren’t sure if these things will work well, then you should at least allow a test (maybe allow a test, hoping they fail - but at least allow the test!)

posted by: Bruce on January 5, 2010  2:34pm

NOTIMON,

Some excellent point, but please consider that FIVE people die from traffic accidents for every ONE that dies from gun violence.  This is a critical issue and should be very near the top of everyone’s priority list.

posted by: MOCT on January 5, 2010  2:43pm

Darnell, here is some information indicating that red light cameras ARE effective in reducing crash rates.  A simple Google search would have located them.  The first article is about my hometown. 

<a href=“http://www.anpac.com/news_events/press_releases/RedLightCameraPressRelease.pdf” rel=“nofollow”>http://www.anpac.com/news_events/press_releases/RedLightCameraPressRelease.pdf</a>

<a href=“http://www.ky3.com/home/related/2760531.html” rel=“nofollow”>http://www.ky3.com/home/related/2760531.html</a>

posted by: juli on January 5, 2010  3:10pm

first, this debate makes me really proud to live in new haven.

and second, i wholeheartedly agree with dingdongs last statement focusing on the fact that the reason new haven advocates are pushing so hard for this legislation, and will continue to do so, is because we seek to TEST this equipment in a completely transparent manner, based on interstections with the highest crash rates.

it also bears mentioning that cameras are being used for law enforcement in Albuquerque, Atlanta, Baltimore, Chicago, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, New York City, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington, DC, plus many smaller communities…

posted by: Wicked Lester on January 5, 2010  3:10pm

Darnell Goldson’s take on these cameras crosses over into political neurosis. From wiretapping to internment to syphilitic experimentation. Time to break out the tinfoil hat!

posted by: DingDong on January 5, 2010  3:23pm

Darnell,

Sorry for continuing this discussion in a separate post, but I wanted to make one more point.


You wrote that: “One day those cameras will be used in a way that is outside of the parameters designed. Streever nor anyone else can guarantee otherwise.”


Perhaps this is true, I’m not sure.  But this was my point—anything can be abused.  Police abuse their powers.  Rodney King is a perfect example of how terrible and tragic this can be.  Similar abuse (though publicized) probably happens right here in New Haven every day.  But this does not mean we should not have police.  It means we should be careful to make sure there are adequate safeguards to stop police from abusing their power.  Even still, they will sometimes abuse it.  But the world is better with police who occassionally abuse their power than with no police at all, so we still should have police - we just need to make them better.

Maybe you are right that no one can guarantee than no one will abuse these cameras.  I think you are overestimating the chances of this, but you’re still probably right. The point is even if there is a chance there may be abused, New Haven will be a better city with red light cameras than without.  I think we should at least ask the state to allow us to test them.

posted by: DingDong on January 5, 2010  3:26pm

Typo/left some words out:

“Rodney King is a perfect example of how terrible and tragic this can be.  Similar abuse (though publicized) probably happens right here in New Haven every day.”

I meant “Similar abuses (though not as severe and less publicized)”

posted by: Banphotoradar on January 5, 2010  3:43pm

20 reasons to oppose photo radar:

http://www.meetup.com/camerafraud/messages/boards/thread/7496696


camerafraud.com

posted by: Steve Ross, Human on January 5, 2010  4:36pm

I’d be nervous if this issue wasn’t debated, regardless of its outcome.

posted by: City Hall Watch on January 5, 2010  5:08pm

Using cameras for legitimate law enforcement purposes to catch criminals is fine. It’s great to go to the video tape to catch a perp. But that’s not what we are talking about here. We are talking about giving the City of New Haven the absolute power to issue expensive tickets without having to prove you were the violater, only that your car was.

In the process, we are being forced to give up due process rights in a trade for what a minority, most of whom probably drive little or not at all, think is greater safety. Where have I heard this crippled logic before? I think it was Dick Cheney and Co. who thought it fine to listen in on our phone calls and check out our emails in the name of national security. Look at what they’re going to put you through at the airports now because the feds couldn’t connect the dots; virtual strip searches and pat downs if some TSA workers thinks you sweat too much or your eyes look shifty. 

Mark my words. The “red light” cameras will morph into cameras used to issue tickets for speeding again, in the name of safety and the slippery slope of soft tyranny will grow. These seemingly small incremental changes does nothing but give more power to the government. In doing so, we give up freedom and hope, the roots and lifeblood of a vibrant democracy.

posted by: robn on January 5, 2010  5:10pm

The BOA should definitely consider law enforcement death-robots…but only for foul language in public.
Ask yourself…would you pass the test???

posted by: ANON on January 5, 2010  5:11pm

I have said before and I will say it again.  There are those they want to be part of an agenda to improve the city and those that will just want to play the role of obstructionist.

Take a guess which group Mr. Goldson falls into?

posted by: Westville Mom on January 5, 2010  5:12pm

Re: the above post by “John”, perhaps the reason that Newhallville’s alderman is concerned that his community will be affected more than others is that new counter-technology is being developed (and an app already exists for the iPhone) to thwart the cameras—- for a PRICE:

http://cbs5.com/local/iphone.app.speeding.2.1089571.html

Mayor Booker of Newark is getting fantastic results using Rudy Giuliani’s “quality of life” policing.  A police officer can investigate a car that it stops for speeding.  A camera cannot.  The results may justify the means here, but there ARE other considerations that should be discussed.

posted by: dana b on January 5, 2010  5:49pm

First, red light cameras change driving behavior at the few intersections where they are installed.  But drivers continue to push the limit at all other intersections.  Overall, safety doesn’t improve in any city, unless just about every intersection has them.  I know, because I and two other friends each got tagged with a $530 fine in California where we live.  We all are more cautious at those intersections, but it doesn’t really change our behavior elsewhere.  I know that probably infuriates some readers, but it’s the honest truth.
Second, I was able to pay the fine, but so many others would be devastated by such an unexpected hit.  Maybe you install cameras but keep the fines to something working people can afford—like $100.  You would still change behavior at a few intersections, but you wouldn’t send poorer folks into spiral of debt.
Third, red light cameras are subject to real abuse by the governments that install them.  They increase fine income tremendously and prove irresistable to local governments.  To make them more fair, one community increased the amount of seconds a light remained amber.  That caught total scofflaws but gave some leniency to the person who did not slam on the brakes with someone behind them.  But that fair use then decreased revenue so much, the community got rid of many of the cameras.  My point is that the red light cameras are embraced mostly for their revenue, not because of a great increase in safety.

posted by: anon on January 5, 2010  5:57pm

Westville Mom: Thanks for mentioning Cory Booker, as Newark has been one of the most aggressive cities in terms of implementing camera technology for crime reduction. 

The cameras, installed throughout the city, have been credited as the reason why crime is falling there.

400 other major U.S. cities use traffic enforcement cameras for red light violations, and use is growing.  The reason is because the cameras work so well at reducing violations, and quality of life improves.  Connecticut cities and towns will continue to see unnecessary deaths and injuries until they get on the bandwagon. 

Traffic injuries and unsafe streets are a critical issue in our neighborhoods.  I have almost been killed several times by drivers running red lights in New Haven, and even if police were on traffic detail 100% of the time, they would have very limited ability to stop this behavior. Try asking your Police Chief to make traffic stops wearing a dark-colored uniform at 10:30 PM on Route 34 or Whalley Avenue.  Good luck.

In terms of privacy, I am far more worried about current abuses of power by the police and government officials (including legislators) than I am about a pilot program for highly-regulated camera systems, technology which already exists everywhere anyways.

posted by: An on January 5, 2010  6:14pm

I commented at length under the other recent article about these traffic cams.

I think privacy is the least of it.

I also think the integrity of the process by which debate and discourse takes place in New Haven politicals is way more important than New Haven generally is willing to acknowledge.

I pointed out in posts under the other article that I signed a petition for safe steets that said nothing about traffic cams, which I am still against.

My signature was used as indicative of the groundswell of support for cameras. I feel I was highjacked.

New Haven’s political game is too cynical and disapointing, one where rhetoric outstrips virtue by a mile and I don’t appreciate it.

I think it is about time we all did better than that.

I abslutely concede that cameras would cut down on red light running, but am still against them.

Anyone who has read my posts on the other story knows that I was hit as a pedestrian by a red light runner at a cross walk (in another city) and I am STILL against them.

I want safe street activists to do what I thought they were going to do—- fight for the pedestrian alerts that are so affordable and so effective: the plastic pedestrian alert cones that sit in the middle of cross walks. I want better walk signals and alarming paint to alert drivers and so on.

Privacy is the least of it. Same is true and more so true with street security cameras.

Privacy is the least of it, though certainly an issue.  But the biggest problem with those is who controls them and how to get access to them when the footage is NOT in the best interests of government/police, when it catches THEM doing something wrong or corrects a mistake THEY made.

This is where the biggest problems are, even more so than privacy, which is certainly a concern but pales next to the civil rights violations that government can do.

NO ONE can violate your rights like the government can. Don’t forget that.

posted by: An on January 5, 2010  6:20pm

Juli there is nothing tranparent or symmetrical about access to the fruits of those cameras.

The legal process doesn’t work that way.

New Haven’s track record on cameras it already runs is horrible. If the police make a mistake on its security cameras it will be a cold day in hell before you ever see it, do you understand?

If not, allow those who know and understand, with years immersed in the problem, be heard.

New Haven is already demonstrated it won’t offer symmetrical access. It will be the eye in the sky and you are the little guy. It ALREADY is doing that with its other cams.

posted by: jane on January 5, 2010  6:42pm

Streever, I have had enormous difficulty with accessing footage on security cameras in New Haven, both federal and city administered cameras.

I don’t want to post my full name on this post, but betsy knows who I am.

I am not referring to red light cameras, but other cameras, security cameras in the city.

I have been fighting for 4.5 years to access footage and receive straight answers about footage from both federal cameras in downtown new haven and a camera installed by the city through homeland security grants.

New Haveners are very naive about the process by which a victim can gain access to footage when police have made a mistake.

You have no idea, I mean no idea what the government can do to frustrate access when you happen to be the victim of someone local government is not particularly intersted in holding accountable: themselves.

posted by: An on January 5, 2010  6:53pm

Regarding Newark,

Personally, for fear of losing my kidneys, I would run a red light too.

posted by: The Truth on January 5, 2010  8:13pm

This has nothing to do with civil rights or safety. In a city thats broke its just another way of taxing people. I just wish this was Finland where fines are proportional to an offenders income. I read once about a billionaire there doing 70 in a 25 limit being juiced for $750,000.

posted by: William Kurtz on January 5, 2010  8:14pm

Where are these cities where the yellow light durations have been carefully timed to maximize fines?  Please, provide the evidence.

posted by: City Hall Watch on January 5, 2010  8:49pm

Anon:

It is not obstructionist to oppose government intrusion or the violation of our due process rights. Further, Booker has used aggressive cameras to thwart crime not red light runners. And finally, cities are using traffic cameras to issue tickets not because it makes anybody safer, but because it generates tens of millions of easy dollars. They don’t pay for the cameras or the maintenance - they just collect the money and share the wealth. DC is one of them and everybody knows it’s just about the money. It always is and this is no different cloaked in a safety disguise.

posted by: Darnell on January 5, 2010  9:10pm

Debate in a democracy is good and healthy. Thank you all for your comments or phone calls, pro or con.

Wicked Lester: Very, very funny. I’ll wear the tinfoil hat at the next Board of Alderman meeting.

Anon: There were 9 items up for discussion and vote on the agenda last evening, I disagreed with my fellow aldermen on one of those items. Do you really consider this as being and obstructionist? Is the thought of having a real democracy at the Board of Aldermen in New Haven that scary to you?

posted by: Westville Mom on January 5, 2010  10:00pm

Anon—I happened to see a live interview with Cory Booker and his police director on Fox News this morning and he, himself, credited the Giuliani tactics—by hiring the NYPD’s veteran “principal crime strategist” in 2006—quoting from Newark’s website.

Contrary to your assertion, they didn’t give primary credit to CAMERAS for the drop in crime. 

Other quotes from the Newark website:

“McCarthy has reorganized the departmentÔøΩs staffing structure by sending more than 150 police officers from clerical positions to citywide task forces and patrol duties. In addition, the patrol function was further enhanced with the creation of the civilian traffic control officer and parking enforcement officer positions, which enabled the sworn officers assigned to the Traffic Division to absorb more calls for service and other law enforcement activities into their daily operations.” ....

“McCarthy recently also launched a quality of life initiative. This initiative employs a multi-agency task force, consisting of the Police Department, Alcoholic Beverage Control, Fire Department, Health Department, Code Enforcement, and Uniform Construction Code Officials, to reduce crime and the fear of crime occurring in the communities.” .....

“To further assist police personnel and continue the departmentÔøΩs overall reduction in crime, the City of Newark has implemented a Public Safety Camera Program, installing surveillance cameras in 32 locations experiencing incidents of violent crimes. This program will assist in monitoring crime in the neighborhoods to reduce the occurrences, and apprehend the criminal offenders.”

My point was simply (if you read into it) that people intent on thwarting the system will find a way to do so.  It’s not rocket science.  There’s really no substitute for excellent policing.  I think Dana B. made some interesting points regarding fairness. I’m not addressing the privacy issue, with which I don’t have a problem.

I believe it was ROBN above who was almost run over by a tow truck in plain sight of a police officer, who took no action.  I wish I had a dime for every time I’ve seen something similar in this city.  But I do know a little old lady who once ... many years ago ... got ticketed for going through the crazy Dayton/Fountain light. Hers is about the only ticket (of a friend) I’ve heard of in this town!

posted by: angelo on January 5, 2010  10:27pm

Newark switches on red-light cameras
By Sharon Adarlo/The Star-Ledger
December 16, 2009, 6:00AM
Sharon Adarlo/The Star-LedgerA newly installed red-light camera (seen here in as black box with a white flashlight) at a Newark intersection. The cameras go live today.NEWARK—Starting today, motorists could get a ticket for running a red light in this city, even if there isnít a police officer nearby.

With the help of recently installed cameras, drivers will get a $85 fine in the mail if they run red lights at Broad and Market streets or Broad Street and Raymond Boulevard, two of the cityís busiest intersections, said city officials Tuesday at Military Park, from which thereís a clear view of the black box-shaped cameras. During a trial period that started on Nov. 16, about 3,000 drivers have been issued warning letters instead.


“This is an initiative that will make a safer city,” said Mayor Cory Booker, who called it the first red light camera system in the state. “We will no longer tolerate a high number of vehicular and pedestrian accidents.”

posted by: anon on January 5, 2010  10:34pm

An, the Safe Streets petition last year had nothing to do with cameras that give parking tickets to red light runners.  It asks for lowered travel speeds near elementary schools, reduced injuries, and better data (i.e. more transparency) from the police department. 

The petition was voted on by 100 neighborhood groups and elected officials and helped result in the Board of Aldermen unanimously passing a Complete Streets Order. Cameras are not mentioned on that petition, or on the Complete Streets Order, so I’m not sure why you have a problem with it.  It sounds to me like individuals who supported the Complete Streets Order can decide for themselves whether or not to also support cameras that give parking tickets to red light runners, since the two issues are not connected.

The groups lobbying for cameras are Elm City Cycling, Connecticut Livable Streets, and the City of New Haven administration (among others), not the amorphous mass of thousands of people who signed onto the Safe Streets / Complete Streets movement or attended the Mayor’s events around it. Readers made this point on the previous NHI article that you refer to—perhaps you overlooked their comments? 

Instead of worrying about a “movement being hijacked” by a few camera installations that already exist basically everywhere outside of Connecticut, why don’t you go out and lobby for safer streets / better transportation if that is what you support?  Transportation and public safety lobbyists are all begging for articulate, concerned folks like you to get more involved.

posted by: nero on January 5, 2010  11:35pm

New Haven does indeed have a problem with drivers regularly ignoring red lights, but enforcement is only a part of the solution.

Drivers run red lights in New Haven out of frustration. New Haven’s traffic lights aren’t synchronized and the length of red bears no relation to real-world traffic.

Combine infuriating traffic patterns with too many “No Turn on Red” signs and you have a prescription for disaster.

Synchronize traffic lights, fix timing to facilitate the flow on major arteries and remove three-quarters of the “No Turn on Red” signs, then watch traffic calm down and put smiles on drivers’ faces.

posted by: Anon on January 6, 2010  2:26am

Cameras are not about revenue. When cameras are installed, red light running dramatically declines, meaning there’s little revenue to be gained. 

The installation of cameras itself will end up costing the city a lot of money. 

It is a losing proposition for the city budget.  But it is a winning proposition for residents, particularly the lower income residents who our policymakers tend to ignore , who currently pay the massive costs of red light running with their property, bodily injuries / deaths, higher insurance premiums and health care costs, police resources diverted away from other issues, and fear of going out on the street (not everyone owns a large, t-bone crash resistant SUV). Just like with the funding of policing or schools, the city will lose money on this effort, but residents will gain.

Nationally, traffic crashes cost citizens a hundred billion dollars per year.  will our legislators step up and take action to address that waste and expense borne by our citizens, or will they continue to look the other way?

posted by: Anon on January 6, 2010  8:17am

ìI love my city, Ö but I donít always trust my government,î Goldson said.

Mr. Goldson you are government.  Perhaps people should not trust you and your agenda?

posted by: TBWRIGHT on January 6, 2010  8:52am

Darnell keep them on there toes but like Notimon said are young men and women are killing each other what about that part of New Haven safety. Yes running a red light is an accident our young people killing each other is not an accident. Take two hours to debate that issue.

posted by: Stephen on January 6, 2010  8:54am

HER ARE SOME STUDIES THAT SHOW RLC CAUSE MORE WRECKS.

<a href=“http://www.thenewspaper.com/news/04/430.asp” rel=“nofollow”>http://www.thenewspaper.com/news/04/430.asp</a>

By the way, why does IIHS refuse to release the raw data on their RLC study.

Answer:  They are afraid of what people will find.

2007 V-Dot shows MORE ACCIDENTS NOT LESS.

<a href=“http://www.thenewspaper.com/news/30/3009.asp” rel=“nofollow”>http://www.thenewspaper.com/news/30/3009.asp</a>

No amount of using “emotional arguments” is going to change the fact that most RLC cite not the dangerous RLR (who plus 5 into red) but people for being under a second late (shows the need for longer ambers), right turns on red done wrong, or even stopping 1 foot over the stop line!

This nothing but a rigged card game, RLC.  Heck in Tucson, AZ the city and vendor MOVED THE TRIGGER LINE INTO THE INTERSECTION so you could corss the stop line while yellow, but not their NEW STOP Line.

<a href=“http://www.thenewspaper.com/news/29/2990.asp” rel=“nofollow”>http://www.thenewspaper.com/news/29/2990.asp</a>

THIS IS A SCAM!  More people are getting tired of it.  Heck 3 states banned it in 2009 as well as 3 public referendums!

posted by: Steve on January 6, 2010  9:26am

Red light cameras are used in Germany and are very effective.

However, I wonder how the many, many bicyclists who run red lights on a regular basis will be ticketed?

Safe streets are essential, but bicyclists REALLY need to learn to obey traffic laws as well.

posted by: Darnell on January 6, 2010  9:41am

To TB: I will!

posted by: Stephen on January 6, 2010  10:21am

Effective at making money in German no doubt.  Effective at Safety NO.

Of couse I am sure the German goverment will do all it can to make sure information doesn’t come out against the state view.

In England, the British Medical Jornal found the police lying on accident data for they checked the hospitalization numbers.  http://www.thenewspaper.com/news/26/2638.asp

In Houston, TX.  The mayor HID the report showing RLC caused more wrecks.  It was forced open under a lawsuit!

http://www.clarksvilleonline.com/2009/01/15/texas-red-light-camera-accident-stats-fudged/

That same report contradicts a Tx Dot report claiming RLC worked.  AT THE SAME INTERSECTIONS they GOT DIFFERENT NUMBERS.

RLC people there LIED!

posted by: Mister Jones on January 6, 2010  10:45am

It’s not about privacy, because even though people constantly do things in their cars that they would not do if they thought someone was watching, there’s no real privacy in a car on the street.  It’s about dehumanization of traffic enforcement, and fear of robocops. 

Face it, we have a problem in New Haven with people pushing yellow lights too far, so that way too many cars pass through intersections after the lights change.  I would think that very little of this is folks blowing lights already red.  It’s like the old joke about what you do at a yellow light—stop if you can, slow down or hit the gas?

Personally, I don’t care that a red-light camera only proves that it’s the car, not the driver, going through the light.  I’m more concerned with drivers legitimately going through a yellow light that happens to change as they enter the intersection.  Will all these cars be automatically tagged?

posted by: MOCT on January 6, 2010  12:08pm

I’m so glad to see everyone read the articles I posted!!!  Not sure why I even bother trying to help.  Fine.  I’ll just post some quotes about the EFFECTIVENESS of red light cameras in my hometown. 

“We have reduced crashes,” Earl Newman from the Department of Public Works says.

By 3.44 % at the 13 intersections where the cameras keep an eye on the roads.”

and

““We’re only averaging 1.4 violations in a 24-hour period,” Newman says.

That’s barely above the break-even point.

Still, the city says the cameras are prompting drivers all over town to push the brakes.

“People forget where they are, and it’s showing up in the reduction of crashes all over the city,” Newman says.”

By the way, THANK YOU, Anon, for posting your information, as well.  =)

posted by: dana b on January 6, 2010  1:21pm

To William Kurtz,  Sorry I do not remember what city lengthened the time of amber lights and concentrated on the more flagrant and dangerous red light runners.  I saw this on a nationally televised program—maybe 60 Minutes(?), and I think it was in the South.  The poster Stephen seems to have a lot of information about RLC effectiveness, and I defer to him on this.

posted by: Norton Street on January 6, 2010  4:03pm

Nero,
Perhaps car traffic would move somewhat more efficiently and safely if lights were better timed, which may therefore alleviate some of the frustration that leads to reckless driving. But the core problem is that the vast majority of New Haven’s roads (and many old American cities’ roads) were laid out before private cars were America’s mass transit devise and before our public streets were our mass transit circulation system (previously our mass transit devices had been trolleys and trains, and our mass transit circulation systems had been rail lines). Our road networks were never intended to be used in the way we currently use them, so traffic engineers have had enormous difficulty-even when provided with nearly limitless funds-converting our old streets to automobile highways through repaving, widening, geometric radii changes, ugly signage, stop lights, etc.
New Haven’s streets are not performing properly and as well as they should, not because car usage is not considered enough, but because all other usage-walking, standing, talking, sitting, fixed path public transit-are not considered enough.

If we’re going to implement right light cameras and tolls, we have to also provide good alternatives; maybe this doesn’t happen immediately, but as money is generated from these things, we should use it to not only improve public transit but also make walking more pleasant by designing our environments around human beings instead of automobiles. Street trees, multi-story, narrow and diverse buildings that come out to the curb, walking beat police officers, and socially encouraging public spaces are desperately needed in our human habitat and the implementation of all these things will help provide necessary alternatives to driving if red light cameras and toll booths are to be used, which hopefully they will be.

posted by: mom to be on January 6, 2010  4:41pm

robn - i feel for your near miss.  recently i was nearly struck by a SCHOOL BUS (and it was not a last second, try to make the yellow.  this was BLATANT).  maybe this will be better enforcement for public vehicle operators.  (p.s. i’m driving my child to school!)

posted by: Streever on January 6, 2010  7:12pm

Jane,

I have no doubt that you are correct about that issue. It sounds really problematic.

However, it’s a separate issue: red light cameras are not video cameras, they merely snap a photo & mail a copy of the photo to you, so you will have access to all of the evidence & proof. Further, the ticket issued is not a criminal infraction, so you do not have to worry about being criminalized by these cameras.

I understand your point & think it’s valid—if someone collects evidence against you with a camera you are entitled to it—that is why I support these. They are completely transparent.

posted by: fingers on January 6, 2010  8:30pm

Florida is being sued because red light cameras violate their own law that says that a cop must witness the illegal behavior in order to issue a ticket. Wonder what CT’s law says.

posted by: Civil Libertarian on January 6, 2010  10:29pm

I hate the idea of government watching our every move. We will be controlled zombies next. But driving home tonight I had two near death encounters with complete idiots driving right thru red lights. I don’t want cameras. I want selected police enforcement with $5,000 or $10,000 dollar fines. And I don’t want mitigating circumstances like my mother never played with me and my erector set.

posted by: anon on January 7, 2010  9:59am

Good luck getting a $10000 fine for red light runners, civil libertarian. 

That would be a much bigger infraction on civil liberties in my opinion (police having ability to take away a full 6 months of a family’s income) than $85-100 parking tickets for runners. 

The latter is what the state law proposes… and is what 400 other cities already use because it is so effective at reducing crashes and injuries—in some studied cases, eliminating 90-100% of crashes at intersections.

If you are going to have exceptionally high fines for dangerous behavior, they should be adjusted by income, like they do in many other countries.  I would agree with a $10,000 ticket for red light runners making $150K per year, as long as that fine would be adjusted, say, to $500 for a family making $20K or to $1,500 for an individual making $50K. 

But those high fines should be fines for police enforcement (e.g., speeding, aggressive driving)—camera enforcement for red light running is so effective and so common that you don’t need particularly high fines for it to work. 

I like Cory Booker’s / Newark’s approach of $85 fines.

posted by: City Hall Watch on January 7, 2010  12:22pm

Who cares what other cities are doing? I don’t live in those cities. It’s still a matter of due process and giving tickets to cars rather than drivers is absurd and it places a burden on the owner regardless of who is driving. Positioning this as akin to a parking ticket is just a way to get around the law and pretend it’s something it is not. Just like pretending this is about safety and not money.

Further it’s ironic how those who want to create a police state in New Haven and use other cities as models, are the same ones who won’t use other cities as models who provide services at substantially lower cost models than New Haven, and have cop shops that are smaller and protect much larger populations. It’s all in how you pick and choose.

posted by: notimon on January 7, 2010  12:38pm

Its Clear to me by the post, none of you live in Newhallville, The Hill, Fair Haven, Dwight/Kensington area, because if you did you wouldnt spend as much time talking about Red Light cameras of all things, when the gun violence in New Haven is rampant.

posted by: Jane on January 7, 2010  2:00pm

To Fingers, regarding your question about police witnessing infractions/misdemeanors.

I don’t know about traffic cameras, but in Connecticut, police do not have to witness anything to issue a charge on minor offenses. All they need is an accuser, a mere accusation, one person, no witneses, no further evidence, no nothing.

Police discretion comes into play, those officers who have enough judgment to use discretion well. 

It is wide open to abuse and is abused.

NY has some kind of law regarding police needing to witness minor offenses, but it has some conditions on it—can’t remember, it’s a little more complicated than that.

posted by: anon on January 7, 2010  4:38pm

Notimon, I do live and work in those areas. Gun violence is of great concern to me and other supporters of improved traffic enforcement, but red light running is a problem that is just as severe. It has resulted in significant injury and death in our communities, with disproportionate impact on children and lower-income families who are less likely to be driving large SUVs as their primary form of travel.  It also means people are too afraid to leave their homes for fear of being hit by a driver speeding through a light, especially at night when the cops go home.  I have almost been hit on several occasions while driving due to red light runners, and I have had many close friends severely injured.

Like the Shot Spotter, giving parking tickets to red light runners is a proven, cost-effective way to reduce injury and death within an urban community.  This has been proven in hundreds of other cities / intersections that have similar environmental and demographic characteristics to central New Haven.

The technology is so commonplace and accepted that it is barely worth discussing.  I was also skeptical of it at first, but spend a few weeks researching how it works and your opinion may change.

Back to your point on the distribution of social goods, addressing some of the red light running problem through proven technology will free up resources for the community to address other issues, like gun violence.  Gun violence relates to the state cutting funding for behavioral mental health, the need for more walking beats, economic inequality and other factors—all of which can be better addressed if we can reduce the massive social cost burden of vehicular casualties in our community and make people feel more comfortable living, walking, working, creating jobs and playing in it every day and every night.

City Hall Watch, do you care to share those comparisons you keep referencing?  When comparing cities, you have to compare apples to apples.  Don’t tell me that Wichita (140 square miles, mostly developed after 1970) has a smaller “per person” police force than New Haven (17 square miles, mostly developed prior to 1940), and is therefore “more efficient.”  You can’t compare a postwar suburb in the middle of nowhere to one of the oldest and densest cities in the country, sitting within the nation’s largest urban area.

posted by: anon on January 7, 2010  5:22pm

Regarding fines that are proportionate to income, a man was recently fined $290,000 for driving 35 miles per hour over the speed limit: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/8446545.stm

posted by: what? on January 7, 2010  8:06pm

Talk about hyperpole - Anon - “...red light running has resulted in significant injury and death in our communities, with disproportionate impact on children and lower-income families who are less likely to be driving large SUVs as their primary form of travel.”

State facts. How many deaths last year were attributed to red light running in New Haven? How many poor people were run over by those rich SUV drivers?

Anon - “It also means people are too afraid to leave their homes for fear of being hit by a driver speeding through a light, especially at night when the cops go home.”

Again, please state facts. What people lock themselves in their homes to protect themselves from cars? And, I didn’t know cops didn’t patrol at night, news to me.

Anon -  “I have had many close friends severely injured.”

What a load of——!!!

Anon - “giving parking tickets to red light runners is a proven, cost-effective way to reduce injury and death within an urban community. This has been proven in hundreds of other cities / intersections that have similar environmental and demographic characteristics to central New Haven.”

Please cite and/or reference the studies proving this.

Anon, long on talk, short on facts.

posted by: STYLENE on January 8, 2010  8:12am

@ NERO

ABSOLUTELY AGREE WITH YOU!!!!!!

posted by: William Kurtz on January 8, 2010  10:12am

Dana B

The poster ‘Stephen’ gets all his information here:  thenewspaper.com

Now, rather than ‘defer’ to anyone, I decided to do a little research myself—easy enough, really, and something that you could do rather than relying on an anonymous poster on an internet message board.  Starting with Stephen’s source, I found this article about Chattanooga:

http://timesfreepress.com/news/2008/mar/13/quick-light-leads-refunds-176-drivers/

Refunding $8800 in traffic fines might seem like an embarrassing episode, and at first glance, might also seem to reinforce this fear about intentionally-shortened red-light timings.  However, reading some of the follow-up articles in the Times Free Press shows that the refund may have been due more to the judge’s biases and ignorance than any illegal or unethical tinkering with the lights:

http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/2008/sep/23/chattanooga-red-light-camera-report-flawed-officia/

The timings of traffic light cycles are determined according to guidelines created by traffic engineers and take into account a lot of factors such as the width of the road.  I don’t claim to be an expert on how they’re determined, but I do know there’s little-to-no evidence of cities changing timings to raise revenue.

posted by: anon on January 8, 2010  12:05pm

What, do you read the New Haven Independent? Do you see the daily intake of crash victims at the YNHH emergency room? Are you trying to say that you’ve proven red light running did NOT result in any deaths and injuries in New Haven last year?  Have you looked at TTP’s published information or proven that child, adult and pedestrian injury trends in New Haven are dramatically different than those documented in every other city in the country?

These facts are widely known - if you’re interested in the issue, why not devote some of your time to taking them from ConnDOT, TTP, YNHH, following up on local journalistic accounts, etc., so they can be written up in a way that makes more sense to the public? Volunteers are needed.

Maybe your analysis can convince your neighbors that they shouldn’t be worried about this issue—even though the police Lieutenant supervisors identify red light running as a primary safety hazard at virtually every community meeting and police chiefs throughout the state lobby for this legislation.

posted by: what? on January 8, 2010  12:07pm

William Kurt—Yeah, and there was no evidence that police officers beat Rodney King, except for a video of course.

Hey, if you don’t believe that John D sees this as a revenue raiser, I have a bridge in Brooklyn I’ll like to sell you.

posted by: what? on January 8, 2010  12:55pm

Anon—

The Ald from East stated at the Board meeting that last year 9 deaths statewide resulted from red light runners. Only 9 throughout the entire state. Yes, I am saying that red light running DOES NOT result in deaths in New Haven, a combination of cars speeding and pedestrians crossing AGAINST the lights DO result in deaths. Prove me wrong.

posted by: William Kurtz on January 8, 2010  1:01pm

What?

Is Rodney King your point?  Or are you prepared to point to cities where that has taken place?  It seems like you’re trying to have it both ways; accusing the poster ‘Anon’ of baseless assertions but also making them yourself. 

The issue isn’t whether it’s a revenue raiser, but whether the best practices of traffic engineering are being overridden in favor of artificial gains in ticket revenue.  I will respond to that with two points.  First, in Connecticut, moving violation fines go to the state, with a small amount (around $10, I think) going to the municipality.  (Perhaps this explains why state police are so aggressive with speeding enforcement?)  There is a political push to send more of that money back to the cities and towns, but right now, at least, there’s not much of a financial incentive for Mayor DeStefano to increase tickets. 

Second, who cares?  Personally, I don’t run red lights and so it doesn’t matter to me.  I’m fine with dangerous drivers footing the bill.

posted by: robn on January 9, 2010  11:01am

Boiling it down, there are two issues, Privacy and Effectiveness.

Privacy
There is no privacy in public places. If the camera database was accessable to the public (live-streaming and recorded images, online 24/7 would not be a problem) then there would be no asymmetrical abuse of data (...and wouldn’t it be interesting to record the number of city owned vehicles running red lights?)

Effectiveness
This may only change the behavior of drivers at camera’d intersections, but if they’re super-problematic intersections where lives have been lost, might it be worth it?