[T]he city is asking the University of New Mexico's Institute for Social Research to study whether Albuquerque's streets have become safer in the five-plus years since cameras began snapping pictures of speeders and red light runners.We've been told repeatedly by the Chavez Administration and their Chief of Police Ray Schultz that the Scam-eras are for public safety and more importantly that they change behavior. If Albuquerque Scam-eras really changed driver behavior, wouldn't the revenue generated by the program decrease?
That's the key to the program's future, according to the mayor's office.
The revenue "is something the study will look at, but the mayor has always said the red light camera program has to be about public safety," said T.J. Wilham, Albuquerque's public safety spokesman.
During the first 18 months of the program the city's cash cameras clicked off 80,000 $100 citations (USA Today) that's roughly $5.3 MILLION a year. According to the Journal, last year the Albuquerque program took in some $8.6 MILLION despite the state's cap on fines ($75) - an increase of roughly $3.3 MILLION. The only difference between then and now is who gets the money.
If program revenues are increasing then it follows that driver behavior isn't changing at all. If drivers continue to behave as they always have, no one is safer no matter what the crash statistics are.
APD has claimed a 30 percent to 40 percent decrease in crashes at red-light camera intersections in 2006.So... to sum up. Back in 2007 Scam-eras were raking in roughly $5.3 MILLION a year and the PRC found that APD had lie... uh, exaggerated the effectiveness of the system when in fact some of the accident data indicated an increase in the number of accidents. Fast forward to 2009 when the scam bagged $8.6 MILLION (sending half to the state and half to Redflex) roughly $3.3 MILLION a year more than it did initially. Safer? Hardly.
But according to data obtained from APD by the state Public Regulation Commission, accidents near some of these intersections have actually increased.
But all of these statistics miss the most important point. The Scam-era program deprives the accused with the ability to present even the most basic defense. In other words, the accused are denied their due process rights.
The accused are not immediately notified of the alleged infraction, they are deprived of the ability to gather their own evidence, and are forced to rely on the state's evidence for their defense. In other words, guilty until proven innocent and the proof comes from the state.
In the final analysis, it doesn't matter what the UNM study says because they're looking in the wrong place. Citizens are guaranteed due process rights by the U.S. Constitution. Redflex and their partner governments including the City of Albuquerque are blatantly denying citizens of their constitutionally guaranteed rights. No study will change that fact. No study can change that fact.