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Red Light Scammeras

Red Light Scammeras

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Published by Michelle Hohmeier
Safety? Right.
Safety? Right.

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Published by: Michelle Hohmeier on Jan 18, 2011
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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01/18/2011

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Red Light ScammerasByMichelle HohmeierWhile reading a letter to the editor about the whining red light violators, I realizedthe American people are willing to give up their rights and liberties for a littlesecurity or convenience. I am not surprised by this cavalier attitude, simplynauseated by it. Many men died trying to defend the idea of American freedom andyet people are willing to give those freedoms away so carelessly. They support thisnext travesty of injustice in a long line of abuses simply because they are afraid.But from where does this fear originate? It must be a gross misunderstanding of theextent in which our government is involved in this invasion of our liberties. For Icannot stomach the idea that flag-flying Americans would allow their government tobecome so insidious. Or maybe it’s ignorance of the law as to why some peoplescoff those, who are working so tirelessly to preserve the few personal liberties stillafforded American citizens.What pushes those against the red light scammeras to continue their fight? Theystand on the side of the Constitution itself and will not compromise to those tryingto violate it at every turn.As far as enforcement of the law and running red lights are concerned, there is nodispute on either side there should be consequences for people who break the law.However, the consequences should fit the crime committed. Sending anunenforceable ticket to a license owner is not the correct response.When a continual problem occurs at an intersection where people persist in runningthe light, it should be the responsibility of the local police department to monitorthat intersection. To rely on a camera is a flagrant injustice, as it breaches theConstitutional rights of each person traveling through that particular crossroads.Beside the fact the cameras are continuously recording traffic at the intersection,(documenting the innocent along with the guilty) when an offense transpires acamera cannot be called as a valid witness to testify against the accused. This initself violates the 6
th
Amendment.
“to be confronted with the witnesses against him” 
 This means the accused has the right to cross examine the witnesses broughtagainst him. Video and photographic evidence can be used in a case, but not as thesole evidence to convict a person. There has to be corroborative evidence such aseye witnesses, humans, or other forensic evidence.
 
Recently, the United States Supreme Court ruled in the case of Melendez-Diaz v.Massachusetts “that merely producing such a certificate in court is insufficient”. Thehigh court ruled in this manner because although it may be difficult to havewitnesses present to testify, if this premise were not upheld it would greatly weakenthe integrity of the court. Judge Scalia says it this way, “"The 'certificates' are functionally identical to live, in-court testimony, doing precisely what a witness does on direct examination.Respondent and the dissent may be right that there are other ways -- and in somecases better ways -- to challenge or verify the results of a forensic test. But theConstitution guarantees one way: confrontation. We do not have license to suspendthe Confrontation Clause when a preferable trial strategy is available."He goes on to say, “"Forensic evidence is not uniquely immune from the risk of manipulation....”And why is photo manipulation a concern? Because the companies that monitor thecameras and send out the tickets are also responsible for the calibration, accuracyand timing of the systems. Those same companies, whom our governments havecharged with our protection, have profited by the millions of dollars, under the guiseof ensuring the public’s safety.Let’s look at the safety aspect of the red light cameras.When a red light camera ticket is issued, it is not recorded as a moving violation. The reasoning behind that variation is due to the fact both the photo enforcementindustry and the government entities know they cannot enforce the ticket as amoving violation because of the lack of a human witness.Since in Missouri, these tickets are issued as “civil” violations, points do notaccumulate on a person’s driver’s license. Unlike a ticket issued by a police officerat that same intersection for the same offense, which would be considered amoving violation. Without points being accumulated on a license, that personcannot have their license suspended or revoked. Because of this, offenders do notreceive the punishment to fit the crime. But more so, it allows repeat offenders toremain on the road, therefore the safety of others is in jeopardy. There is no safetyfactor in issuing a ticket for a moving violation if the perpetrator will simply be letoff with a slap on the wrist. The truth of the matter is those in government and employed by the photoenforcement agencies are only interested in one thing. Money. These camerasmake millions with the potential to make billions of dollars.If the argument was sincerely about the safety of intersections, and they weremaking intersections safe, would it not be assumed then the presence of cameraswould result in lower ticket counts over time? Logically, you would think that would
 
be the case. But it has been shown that the number of tickets issued never drops byany significant amount. It is a variable number that rises and falls without rhyme orreason in a similar pattern as the price of oil. The people in opposition to the red light cameras aren’t those who don’t want topay the consequences for their actions, they simply want to hold those in officeaccountable to the oath they swore to uphold the Constitution.And it appears some legislators are hearing the cry of the oppressed. Across theState of Missouri, towns are abandoning their camera generating revenue.Charlack in north St. Louis took down their speed camera off I-70. Supposedlybecause they had slowed traffic in the area. But St. Louis County Police Chief TimFitch believes traffic has simply slowed in the area monitored by the camera, butonce past it, drivers assume their previous speeds. Fitch said in a statement, "Ithink public opinion is what has caused the cameras to come down, not that theynecessarily reduced accidents on that section of I-170.” The City Council in Washington, Missouri recently decided not to renew theircontract for the red light cameras in their town on the basis they did not see areduction in accidents at the intersections monitored.MoDOT is scheduled to review the use of traffic cameras at their meeting in Jefferson City. But who are they to make the rules, the laws. They do not consist of people elected to the position by the people and therefore have no authority todeem the use of cameras valid or invalid.Before the current session of Congress began in Jefferson City, Representatives TimMeadows and Jim Lemke had been active in discussions to ban the camerasstatewide. According to Rep. Meadows, up to 65% of his constituents told himbefore the last election they did not want the red light cameras. Meadows’ areaincludes most of the city of Arnold, which has had four intersections monitored byred light cameras since November 2005. Both Meadows and Lemke will be activelypursuing bills banning the cameras.So, for those Americans, who continue to hand over their rights on the simple basisof safety, you will be sorry one day. For every time we allow a government agencyof any kind to assume they have the right to invade our privacy, our unalienablerights, all in the name of safety, they grow in arrogance and power. And one daythere will not be the phrase, “innocent until proven guilty”, but the common idiomwill become “guilty until proven innocent”.Here’s what we, the American people need to do. Quit handing over our liberties!Ben Franklin had this to say about liberties. “Those who would give up essentialLiberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”

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