Right around 2:00 AM this morning 17 year-old Zach Hollis blew through a red light at Wyoming and Montgomery and wrapped his vehicle around a Taco Cabana sign. As a result young Hollis lost his life. (Watch the story aired on KOAT here.)
We normally don't talk about fatal 45's (a little police lingo there) on this website, but in this case we believe that it's important to point out that Wyoming and Montgomery is one of the intersections "protected" by Marty's photo enforcement system. During Councilor Winter's Red Light Camera Town hall meeting supporters often cited previous accidents that they or a loved one had been involved in, as a reason to keep the system. This morning's accident points out that you cannot replace police officers with cameras.
We're quite sure that Mr. Hollis or more precisely his grieving family will be receiving a "ticket" for his actions in about 10 days. However, the cameras while dutifully recording this tragedy are worthless when it comes to preventing it.
Police officers can do things that cameras cannot - they can prevent tragedies. When someone is stopped for running a red light, speeding, weaving, or even the heinous crime of putting a license plate protector on their vehicle, the officer's standard procedure includes running the plate, the license, and checking the driver's insurance. More importantly, the officer has the opportunity to observe the driver and any passengers in the vehicle for suspicious or illegal behavior. In other words, he can use his judgment.
We know that there are not enough officers out there to prevent every accident. In fact right now, APD is facing a serious manpower shortage and is asking for $1 Million dollars to recruit and to retain officers (ABQ Journal - Subscription Required). Our Eyes in the department also tell us that the 998 officers claimed by APD is shall we say... an inflated number. Otherwise, why would they need the $1 Million dollars?
It all comes down to this... you can't replace the police with cameras because cameras cannot prevent crime or tragedies like this morning's. The Red Light Camera system simply enriches companies like Red Flex and governments like the City of Albuquerque; they don't make us safer. That's the problem with the cameras... that's their fatal flaw.
The Piercing Truth
This is right from the dictionary and seems to describe Albuquerque, Berry and Schultz. Fascism (f ash ,izem) noun An authoritarian right wing system of government and/or social organization. (in general use) extreme right wing, authoritarian, chauvinistic and/or intolerant views or practices. Fascism tends to include a belief in the supremacy of one group over another, national, ethnic, especially social strata or monetarily; a contempt for democracy, an insistence on obedience to a powerful leader, and a strong demagogic approach. Compliments of one of our Eyes