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Police Objecting to Tickets From Red-Light Cameras

Zonk posted about 7 years ago | from the a-little-hair-of-the-irony-dontcha-think dept.

Privacy 807

caffiend666 writes "According to a Dallas Morning News article, any 'Dallas police officer in a marked squad car who is captured on the city's cameras running a red light will have to pay the $75 fine if the incident doesn't comply with state law ... Many police officers are angry about the proposed policy. The prevailing belief among officers has been that they can run red lights as they see fit.' Is this a case for or against governments relying on un-biased automated systems? Or, should anyone be able to control who is recorded on camera and who is held accountable?"

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807 comments

The police ought to follow the law. (5, Insightful)

Etherwalk (681268) | about 7 years ago | (#18710977)

Period. They should not be exempted from any law, unless there is a compelling argument that exempting them from the law is in the public interest. And if that is the case, then the law ought to be amended. There should not be a double-standard.

Re:The police ought to follow the law. (0, Flamebait)

SQLz (564901) | about 7 years ago | (#18711013)

What about fire trucks, should we ticket them as well? And ambulances?

Re:The police ought to follow the law. (5, Insightful)

setirw (854029) | about 7 years ago | (#18711051)

Did you not see the middle sentence? "They should not be exempted from any law, unless there is a compelling argument that exempting them from the law is in the public interest."

And yes, firetrucks or ambulances should not be exempt if they are not responding to an emergency, which was the original poster's point. A police car should not be exempt if its driver is getting more donuts, but should be exempt if it's responding to a call.

Re:The police ought to follow the law. (-1, Flamebait)

QuantumG (50515) | about 7 years ago | (#18711291)

firetrucks, maybe.. ambulances? no. There's 1 dude in the back of an ambulance, why should that 1 dude have the right to endanger the lives of countless motorists and pedestrians just so he can save himself?

Re:The police ought to follow the law. (5, Insightful)

setirw (854029) | about 7 years ago | (#18711395)

Well... There are fewer people killed by ambulances than there are people saved by ambulances.

Applying your strict utilitarian logic elsewhere, firetrucks and police cars shouldn't have the right to disobey traffic rules if the fire endangers fewer people than disobeying traffic rules does.

Re:The police ought to follow the law. (0, Troll)

QuantumG (50515) | about 7 years ago | (#18711531)

There are fewer people killed by ambulances than there are people saved by ambulances.
Uh huh, and you have studies to back this up? Or you're just assuming the common wisdom is true?

Re:The police ought to follow the law. (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18711439)

>There's 1 dude in the back of an ambulance, why should that 1 dude have the right to endanger the lives of countless motorists and pedestrians just so he can save himself?

Because the ambulance driver is certified to be safe at the higher speeds and is trained in "illegal" driving maneuvers so that he will not collide with anything (except when purposely and safely plowing stopped vehicles out of the way). He also has no tickets or criminal record, ever (most ambulance services are careful to verify this) and, one must assume, is therefore capable of following the law.

Which is all to say that, no, they don't endanger the lives of others at the expense of their passenger because they are specially trained not to. And no, you can't take those courses and have a perfect license and violate traffic laws because violating them causes chaos. Chaos that is acceptable to save a life, if it is controlled and safe. Chaos like that is NOT acceptable because you a late for work. I suppose if you took those courses and had the appropriate safety gear on your car (like lights and siren and special brakes and engine) AND you were transporting a nearly dead passenger, yeah, that would be ok. But that's not your plan, is it? :)

Re:The police ought to follow the law. (1)

IthnkImParanoid (410494) | about 7 years ago | (#18711495)

Nice strawman. We have long had effective traffic laws that, in conjunction with training for drivers of emergency vehicles, allows emergency vehicles to violate normal traffic code in a safe manner.

Unless you have some data showing emergency vehicles speeding or running red lights "endanger the lives of countless motorists and pedestrians" in a manner that outweighs the benefits of allowing them to do so, I think you're talking out of your ass.

Re:The police ought to follow the law. (0, Troll)

QuantumG (50515) | about 7 years ago | (#18711569)

I think the police would make the exact same argument. They're trained to know when it is safe to run red lights and when it is not.. so why shouldn't they be allowed to run them?

Re:The police ought to follow the law. (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18711519)

Almost ALL police abuse the law when on duty. EVERY SINGLE squad car I ever see is always speeding. And sorry they all dont have somewhere to be at 5-10 mph over the speed limit.

Cops should be FIRED for breaking the law.

More Taxes... (1, Informative)

nick_davison (217681) | about 7 years ago | (#18711563)

You can't do away with the police's right to abuse their authority...

Let's face it, the only reason anyone donates to the frequent calls from the various police related funds is because you get a nice bumper sticker that they all but outright state will let officers know you've given them money and thus should be exempted from most traffic tickets.

If they had to start abiding by the law, no longer selectively applying it when it comes to their friends and those who effectively bribe them, they couldn't make those exceptions. Without those exceptions, who would give them money? Without that source of income, how would they replace that revenue stream? More taxes.

So, really, unless you want more taxes, you have to support our felonious friends in blue. Sure, there are some irksome moral questions about their honesty here... but more taxes would be... unAmerican!

Re:The police ought to follow the law. (3, Informative)

Jake73 (306340) | about 7 years ago | (#18711075)

Police, fire trucks, and ambulances are all legal to run red lights under the condition that they run their lights and/or siren to indicate their intent. In fact, I've seen officers on many occasions run their lights JUST to proceed through an intersection, then turn them off.

The executive is not above the law, but certain accomodations are reasonably made.

Re:The police ought to follow the law. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18711187)

What would happen instead if you asked the officer to justify each time he puts his siren/lights on?
If there is no emergency, why are they flaunting their status?

Re:The police ought to follow the law. (1)

MrShaggy (683273) | about 7 years ago | (#18711303)

A lot of the time it could be that the cops are sneaking up on someone.

The other time is that unless you really need to, blaring your siren and lights tends to disrupt the civility of the neighborhood.

I am not saying that there are cops that do roll through the stoplight.. but there are other justifications.

Re:The police ought to follow the law. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18711341)

If there is a valid reason then fine, but turning them on just to run a light seems unjustifiable.

Re:The police ought to follow the law. (4, Informative)

technothrasher (689062) | about 7 years ago | (#18711219)

Police, fire trucks, and ambulances are all legal to run red lights under the condition that they run their lights and/or siren to indicate their intent.

At least here in Massachusetts, this is true only if they are responding to an emergency and they are on duty. If they do it for any other reason, it's illegal. Link [mass.gov]

Great. "Equal protection" will then... (4, Insightful)

msauve (701917) | about 7 years ago | (#18711331)

allow me to do exactly the same thing.

The only time an officer should be able to violate traffic law with impunity is when it is required for performance of their public duty. (i.e. a pursuit, or when responding to an emergency situation)

Re:The police ought to follow the law. (2, Insightful)

Etherwalk (681268) | about 7 years ago | (#18711077)

Most states allow for emergency vehicles to violate standard traffic law--legally--in case of an emergency. The article is about ticketing policemen (or firemen) who violate the law when there isn't an emergency involved.

The law exists for a reason. Allowing someone to ignore it--particularly when that person is responsible for enforcing it--undermines its authority.

Re:The police ought to follow the law. (2, Interesting)

hedwards (940851) | about 7 years ago | (#18711275)

I remember probably 15 years ago hearing about a fatal car crash involving an off duty police officer and his girlfriend. They had borrowed a police car to go to one of the local community events so they could flash the lights and get on through traffic. On the way home the officer apparently had his lights on and was speeding when he lost control of his car and hit an apartment building.

Which is why the state laws are written to keep this kind of hooliganism down and hopefully prevent these accidents.

But most states can fairly accurately determine intent as in many jurisdictions the cars have cameras any way.

Re:The police ought to follow the law. (1, Redundant)

bahwi (43111) | about 7 years ago | (#18711099)

All emergency vehicles have, _under the law_, the ability to speed and run lights under emergency conditions(specifically, lights on). So yes, firetrucks running red lights in a non emergency situation is actually very dangerous due to the length of the vehicle, so yes, ticket them! Police are typically cleared 5-10mph for speeding and anything above that must meet a few conditions, typically either having it pre-approved over the radio, or the emergency lights must be on. Same goes for running lights.

Re:The police ought to follow the law. (1)

MostAwesomeDude (980382) | about 7 years ago | (#18711135)

I don't know about you, but in Oregon, state law is that fire trucks, ambulances, police, and sheriffs are permitted to speed and run red lights when they are doing their duty. This proposal would mean that police cars cannot run red lights if they are not in pursuit of somebody or answering a call; it does not mean that they can never run red lights.

Re:The police ought to follow the law. (2, Informative)

NiceGeek (126629) | about 7 years ago | (#18711381)

It may be state law but I see cops in downtown Portland flash their lights to run a red light and then turn them off all the time.
Of course these are the same cops who tasered a elderly one-eyed woman.

Re:The police ought to follow the law. (2, Insightful)

LBArrettAnderson (655246) | about 7 years ago | (#18711159)

I've seen police cars doing a lot of things that I'm sure were for good reasons, but if they are going to go against traffic laws for any reason, my personal belief is that they should be required to put on their lights and siren. If their lights and siren are off, they should not be speeding, should not be running red lights, and should not be disobeying any laws that the rest of us are subject to.

Re:The police ought to follow the law. (1, Troll)

cluckshot (658931) | about 7 years ago | (#18711173)

This brings up a very simple fact in the US Constitution. It says plainly "No warrant shall issue without probable cause." Now this may not seem simple to people but it really is. It means that nobody shall be arrested (Yes traffic offenses too!) without probable cause. Probable cause is the obvious to all reality that someone has been or is most likely going to be injured at any moment as a result of the behavior of the party being arrested. There is absolutely no way on this earth that this determination can be made by a traffic camera. How on earth does a camera at an intersection know if the Police officer is doing his job properly and safely or not? How on earth can it judge if the risk he has taken in running the red light is one which is not relative to the situation? It cannot. Thus all warrants by traffic cameras are by definition void because they did not have probable cause. Merely speeding or passing a red light is not probable cause. That requires a determination of valid purpose etc.

This all applies to citizens as well!

My thanks to the fire department (5, Informative)

MoxFulder (159829) | about 7 years ago | (#18711269)

While the police seem to be objecting to this policy for no good reason, it sounds like the Dallas Fire Department accepts that they are subject to the same law as everyone else. From TFA:

For the fire department, it's much more cut-and-dried, said Lt. Joel Lavender, a Dallas Fire-Rescue spokesman.

"We don't really have a lot of business running lights, period," Lt. Lavender said. "If you mess up and you're not on an emergency run, you get a ticket. They're subject to the same penalty, in addition to being punished by the fire department."
Good on 'em!

Re:The police ought to follow the law. (1)

PresidentEnder (849024) | about 7 years ago | (#18711313)

They should not be exempted from any law, unless there is a compelling argument that exempting them from the law is in the public interest

What about fire trucks, should we ticket them as well? And ambulances?

I dunno, does it look like there might be a compelling argument that exempting them from the law is in the public interest...?

Re:The police ought to follow the law. (5, Interesting)

GiovanniZero (1006365) | about 7 years ago | (#18711301)

A quick story.

One night I was coming home late and stopped at a Red light. A police car pulled up opposite me waited a moment then hit his lights and ran the light. He immediately turned them off and sped up. I was young and stupid so I pulled a U-turn and followed him. He was definitely speeding and all my youthful angst was sure he was just in a hurry to get home everyone else is.

He was pretty far ahead of me when he turned off the road. I turned into the neighborhood that he'd gone into. I spotted three stopped cop cars, lights off, parked on the street. I didn't know what to think when finally saw the cops.

One was carrying an M-16 and the other two were armed with shotguns, I saw them doing quick hand signals before darting off into the neighborhood in opposite directions.

I kept on driving and decided it was better not to worry too much about the cops pulling privilege because, at least in this case, they had a good reason.

Maybe a cop runs a red light because he's lazy or maybe he runs one because he's following a suspect car. I'd rather let the cops have leeway and discretion in this matter.

Cops see suspicious cars all the time. Maybe they're driving strangely, whatever, the point is that they need to have the freedom to investigate.

Re:The police ought to follow the law. (2, Insightful)

DragonWriter (970822) | about 7 years ago | (#18711499)

Maybe a cop runs a red light because he's lazy or maybe he runs one because he's following a suspect car. I'd rather let the cops have leeway and discretion in this matter.


Still, as I see it, there is no reason they shouldn't get a ticket if there is no clear evidence of the applicability of an emergency exception (clearly, if the camera shows their emergency lights on, that's another story), and be allowed to respond to the ticket and present the case for a non-obvious exception if they so desire.

Re:The police ought to follow the law. (0, Troll)

ResidntGeek (772730) | about 7 years ago | (#18711423)

No, you're about as wrong as it's possible to be (and that's pretty wrong). If there's no double standard, than (to use an example that's 110% guaranteed to hit home with /.ers) the RIAA can raid homes. Right? I mean, we wouldn't allow law enforcement to break burglary laws, just because they have a "warrant", right? So, we either have to take away the right of the police to make arrests on private property, or allow record labels to hire security personnel to do the same to suspected file sharers.

Re:The police ought to follow the law. (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18711503)

In which case, I need a bigger gun.

Mixed views (5, Insightful)

nebaz (453974) | about 7 years ago | (#18710991)

On the one hand, I'm glad that cops will be forced to obey the law, and not think they are above it. There are cops in my town who park in the fire lane all day.

    On the other hand, I really detest red light cameras. They basically operate on the "guilty until proven innocent" principle, sometimes they get you on yellow. Most of the time, they are designed for profit (I've heard companies that manufacture these are often paid per conviction, thus increasing incentive for abuse), not public safety.

    Where I live, the traffic cameras are not placed at the most dangerous intersections, but at the ones they think will generate the most revenue for the city. Gines are more than $350 per offense, and go as a point (4 in a year can mean suspension) on your license.

    I think my hatred of these red light cameras outweigh my delight about the police getting their ironic comeuppance. I think they should be banned.

Re:Mixed views (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18711125)

Well, doesn't the law say that I must face my accuser? With no other witnesses, my accuser is the camera.

Re:Mixed views (3, Interesting)

Bender0x7D1 (536254) | about 7 years ago | (#18711191)

Here in Iowa, red light cameras have been shut down because the courts ruled they were illegal. The story can be found here. [thenewspaper.com] There is even a proposal to ban all camera-based ticketing in the state.

Re:Mixed views (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18711233)

Rules should not be applied without human oversight. When a cop actually gives you a speeding, red-light, or whatever ticket, there is that small potential that he's actually going to consider whether or not the ticket is appropriate. Red-light cameras are an auto-guilty. Whether or not you get cited depends soley on whether or not there is enough technical evidence to show you ran the light. A commercial employee checks and puts the entire thing together, and a desk cop just signs away the paperwork. Machines should not be issuing tickets to people.

Re:Mixed views (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18711397)

Well, don't pay the fine. At least check with your state law first.

In our state, the document has to be personally served for it to be official. These mail in tickets aren't valid. There is no signature. There is no courier.
There is also no stink about it as people who get it tend to send it in anyway.
You can say all you want about automated ticketing but a mail courier is no law enforcer and the automated system isn't able to verify your identity.

A very good friend who is a criminal attorney has thrown away over 35 of them he has received showing me the statues that support his claim.

The quickest way to ban them ... (2, Insightful)

khasim (1285) | about 7 years ago | (#18711417)

is to make them applicable to EVERYONE. The politicians who voted for them. The cops who run them. EVERYONE.

Re:Mixed views (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18711455)

"sometimes they get you on yellow."

They must show that the light was red BEFORE you entered the intersection. Stop making up excuses for breaking the law and endangering peoples lives.

I had a comment, but changed my mind (-1, Troll)

irtza (893217) | about 7 years ago | (#18711003)

I was going to express my opinion on this topic, but then I realized that I am logged into my account. The last thing I want is for an officer to be reading this and then to pull me over for something small and then have it escalate. Seriously, who is crazy enough to post a real opinion on a public forum without being anonymous.

Re:I had a comment, but changed my mind (0, Offtopic)

qqtortqq (521284) | about 7 years ago | (#18711055)

Wow, paranoid any? Do you really think a police officer would see your opinion, somehow get a subpoena for slashdot to get your IP, somehow get another subpoena to get your contact information from your ISP, all while hoping you live in their jurisdiction, just if they happen to pull you over they will recognize that you are the "red light camera supporter?" Get a life.

Re:I had a comment, but changed my mind (0, Offtopic)

Threni (635302) | about 7 years ago | (#18711129)

Why don't you get an account using a nickname, so no-one knows who you really are?

Re:I had a comment, but changed my mind (1)

Durinthal (791855) | about 7 years ago | (#18711155)

So, what are the odds that any police officer that pulls you over reads /. in the first place?

How about reading this specific article?

And reading your comment?

And they remember your username and what you said?

And are able to connect that comment to you when they pull you over?

Do you intend on adding your vehicle make, model, and license plate number to your post, as well as the time and location of some minor offense you're going to commit?

Re:I had a comment, but changed my mind (1)

holden caufield (111364) | about 7 years ago | (#18711193)

Don't worry, your crimethink has been detected and registered (hint: it's doubleplus ungood). There is no cause for alarm if you're approached by some soldiers from Miniluv. They only want to help your Ingsoc education.

Let's all sing a round of "Oceania 'Tis for Thee", shall we?

The police (like the rest of the government) must follow the laws like the rest of the citizens. This may seem like a radical concept, given today's elected leaders, but some of us have been fans of it since it was first put into practice in the 13th century.

Re:I had a comment, but changed my mind (1)

normuser (1079315) | about 7 years ago | (#18711379)

but some of us have been fans of it since it was first put into practice in the 13th century.


How old are you?

Re:I had a comment, but changed my mind (1)

Just Some Guy (3352) | about 7 years ago | (#18711369)

Seriously, who is crazy enough to post a real opinion on a public forum without being anonymous.

Man up, Nancy. Despite the popularity of claiming otherwise, we don't live in a police state.

If you're too afraid to say something even mildly anti-government, then the problem is with your paranoia. Even if you were right, though, giving into your fear by self-censoring would only help your would-be oppressors.

Either you're overly scared, or I'm not scared enough. It doesn't matter. Either way, it's our moral duty to express ourselves.

Re:I had a comment, but changed my mind (2, Insightful)

krunoce (906444) | about 7 years ago | (#18711401)

"Seriously, who is crazy enough to post a real opinion on a public forum without being anonymous."

This isn't 1984 man. Write "Fuck the police" if you want.

Enjoy life. That's my opinion.

Unbiased? I think not. (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18711015)

Red-light cameras don't take into account that there are good reasons to run through red lights. Sometimes you are simply going too fast to stop in time. What if there is rain or snow on the ground? You might also run a red light if someone is following too closely to you and you don't want to get rear-ended when you slam on the brakes.

At least if a human cop sees you run a red light for a reason, you can explain that to him and he can let you go. The cameras are unforgiving. They are totally biased, because they assume if the camera catches you, you are in the wrong. That's not always the case.

Re:Unbiased? I think not. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18711241)

The the camera is punishing you for your inability to control your average driving speed.

There is no reason you have to go 70k on a inner-city street, right?

Re:Unbiased? I think not. (4, Insightful)

PhxBlue (562201) | about 7 years ago | (#18711293)

Sometimes you are simply going too fast to stop in time.

Speeding.

What if there is rain or snow on the ground?

Unsafe driving for conditions.

You might also run a red light if someone is following too closely to you and you don't want to get rear-ended when you slam on the brakes.

Good point. Of course, having the photo as evidence would help you when you go to court to contest the ticket.

Re:Unbiased? I think not. (1)

hairykrishna (740240) | about 7 years ago | (#18711321)

"Sometimes you are simply going too fast to stop in time. What if there is rain or snow on the ground?"

Then you are going too fast for the road conditions. This is not a valid reason to run a red light. I'm no driving rules nazi - I have owned and driven performance cars quickly, on the road. I freely admit that I treat speed limits as 'guidelines'. This said, you should always drive taking into account hazards. A red light is a warning of a hazard (intersection, pedestrian crossing).

Re:Unbiased? I think not. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18711363)

Then that assumption should change too.

Traffic court shouldn't just be a money collecting thing, it's supposed to be a court!g

Re:Unbiased? I think not. (1)

dcloues (977376) | about 7 years ago | (#18711443)

If you're going too fast to stop for a light that changes, the camera that nabs you is hardly the problem. Lights are generally timed in such a way that, once they turn yellow, you have _more than enough_ time to stop safely, even if you're going above the speed limit. If you think you're going too fast to stop, you're doing something wrong. And as for rain or snow: slow down! There's no excuse for poor driving, especially in hazardous conditions. That's a deadly, two ton piece of steel you're piloting, not a go-kart, and your right to reckless abandon is seriously curtailed in the presence of other people (which is pretty much always, if you're on public roads). If you're going too fast and you hit something, or run a red light, it's _your_ fault, and that's that.

Re:Unbiased? I think not. (1)

I7D (682601) | about 7 years ago | (#18711535)

Officer: Why did you run the red light? Driver: Because I was speeding! Officer: Why were you speeding? Driver: Because I just ran somebody over! Officer: I see... Driver: Look, these drugs aren't going to traffic themselves. Officer: You're free to go.

Re:Unbiased? I think not. (1)

Score Whore (32328) | about 7 years ago | (#18711565)

Those are all semi-valid points. So I propose the following:

In addition to the green, for go, lights and the red, for stop, lights why don't we put another colored light on there to indicate that the signal is going to change to red in moments. Maybe something between green and red.... like yellow. Then when the light is yellow you'll know that it's about to be red. As such you'll be able to do all your decision making before cross traffic starts into the intersection.

In case you just don't get it, the yellow light means stop if it is possible to do safely. The only way any of the situations you describe will ever come up is if you aren't obeying traffic laws in the first place.

My biggest problem with the Po-Po (2, Insightful)

Yo Grark (465041) | about 7 years ago | (#18711019)

They don't signal.

They don't follow street laws

They tailgate people at night to "nudge" people into doing wrong.

So it's caught on camera you say? So they object you say?

Go figure. Hey while your at it meter-maids, grow a backbone and give them a ticket for illegally parking going for coffee.

Bah

Yo Grark

Nobody is above the law (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18711021)

At least that's the theory. If their transgressions are covered by rights afforded to them to help them do their job, they can have the ticket waived, but otherwise they're just like you and me, not gods of the streets.

CCTV Gap (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18711023)

Is this a case for or against governments relying on un-biased automated systems? Or, should anyone be able to control who is recorded on camera and who is held accountable?
Or maybe the government is merely concerned about the United States' CCTV gap with the UK [slashdot.org]?

All these cameras are just there so we don't fall behind in the world wide surveillance competition. Wait, you're not unpatriotic are you?

Gentlemen, we must not allow a CCTV gap!

Well, within reason? Sure. (3, Informative)

Coopjust (872796) | about 7 years ago | (#18711043)

I think that cops SHOULD be held accountable for running a red light if they're on patrol, or just driving back to the precinct. The upholders of the law should be held to the law as well.

That said, there are numerous acceptable reasons for a cop to run a red light. A few I can think of off the top of my head...
-An officer is on his way to stop or going to the scene of a 911 call.
-A suspect car runs a red light as well, and in order to continue, pursuit, the cop must also run the red light.

At this point, technology is still in earlier stages, but...
-You could make a filter with police car license plates, and forward them to the appropriate precinct.
-If not possible, human verification and forwarding.

Re:Well, within reason? Sure. (2, Insightful)

Belial6 (794905) | about 7 years ago | (#18711537)

It's very simple. A cop should never, under any circumstances go through a red light without his lights and siren. Anything less is an clear, immediate and unnecessary danger to lives of the citizens in the area. Any time the lights and siren go on, the computer that is now standard equipment in police cars should be logging that the emergency system was turned on. At the end of the day/week/whatever the calls logged should match 100% with the computer log. Any missing call logs should require an explanation.

Given that the police officer is indicating that he is operating in a situation extrodiary enough that he must break the law, there is no excuse for keeping a record.

Really? (1)

hansamurai (907719) | about 7 years ago | (#18711105)

Why run the red light when the officer could just flash the sensor with their beam thing and turn the light green?

Re:Really? (1)

AP2k (991160) | about 7 years ago | (#18711283)

Because the incidens are logged and if it happens enough times, they will install a police officer to ticket whoever is doing it. Homemade MIRTs make for VERY nice tickets.

Re:Really? (1)

BillX (307153) | about 7 years ago | (#18711297)

The light-changer beam already uses infrared, right? They could just put bright IR beams alongside the license plate so that the cheap CCD/CMOS cameras can't read it :-)

Re:Really? (2, Insightful)

setirw (854029) | about 7 years ago | (#18711299)

Because relatively few lights are equipped to change in response to stimuli? Most are simply set on timers.

If we're talking double standards... (3, Insightful)

RichPowers (998637) | about 7 years ago | (#18711149)

Here's one I can support: the mayor, city councilmen, and traffic engineers who supported the red light cameras in the first place shall pay a $2000 fine if photographed running a red light. Then we'll see how fast those fucking cameras get taken down.

The law makes exceptions for emergencies, hot pursuits, etc. Those are the only times when an officer should be running a red light. If they break the law, they can pay the price like other citizens.

Camerals not allowed in Minnesota (4, Informative)

Thunderstruck (210399) | about 7 years ago | (#18711151)

Minnesota's highest court recently struck down the use of these cameras, as practiced in the Twin Cities, because the ticket automatically charged the owner of the car, without concern for whether they were actually driving or not when the picture was taken.

Red Light Cameras [thenewspaper.com]

good (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18711175)

I'm glad this happened. I know police who routinely drive recklessly with no emergency. I know of one cop who died doing this. They really should try to set a good example for the rest of us. I've asked cops about enforcing traffic laws where other cops are concerned and they have always told me that they don't do it b/c they might need his or his department to back him up.
The automated system doesn't have to think about such, and if there were an emergency the required put others at higher risk with that kind of driving then the cop can get it overturned in traffic court just like the rest of us.

Doesnt work (1)

normuser (1079315) | about 7 years ago | (#18711199)

The prevailing belief among officers has been that they can run red lights as they see fit.'


I used a similar argument for going 108 in a 70. The sheriff was not amused.

Police response times (0, Redundant)

Kenrod (188428) | about 7 years ago | (#18711203)

If I hear a suspicious noise at night, I don't want a cop to stop and wait for every light to turn green on the way to my neighborhood because he doesn't want a ticket, or doesn't want to do the paperwork it would take to get out of the ticket...The cop needs to get there as quickly and safely as possible and shouldn't have other things on his mind.

Re:Police response times (1)

Chirs (87576) | about 7 years ago | (#18711375)


According to the article, among other things there is an exception for officers responding to emergency calls.

If its urgent enough that you want them to break the traffic laws getting to your place faster, then wouldn't you say that should be counted as an "emergency call"?

If its not an emergency, then where do you draw the line--is it okay to go the wrong way down a one-way street? What about an illegal u-turn? What about breaking the speed limit?

Re:Police response times (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18711523)

Yes, and if your girlfriend calls you and says she heard a suspicious noise, you shouldn't have to wait for every light to turn green while driving to her house. You shouldn't have to worry about a ticket, or going to court to contest a ticket. You need to get there as quickly and as safely as possible, and shouldn't have other things on your mind.

Exclusive? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18711209)

Uh...are these same cameras in the area also doing the same fines for other people, not just the police who run the lights?

police, fire, ambulance...politicians, celebrities (3, Insightful)

dAzED1 (33635) | about 7 years ago | (#18711213)

I would follow that it is not just police, fire, and ambulance that should always follow the law except when it is in public interest, but that politicians and celebrities should follow the law too, and also that it doesn't necessarily need to be a "public interest" - If my friend has a gunshot wound and I'm driving him to the hospital in my car (and I'm not in an ambulance...), I do not have malicious intent if I slow for a red light, make sure no one is coming, and then carry on through the intersection. In such a situation, I shouldn't get a ticket either.

I've seen countless police officers that pull people over, then cruise down the road at 90mph, set up another speed trap, pull someone over...if there's no need for the officer to speed, he shouldn't be doing it either.

I wish this is how it was in Chicago (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18711225)

I can't tell you HOW many times I see a cop running a redlight, or even a CTA (Chicago Transit Authority) bus going through as if it were a green light. I absolutely love when people who think they are above the law get a nice dose of reality.

Police dont always have license plates (1)

mrsteveman1 (1010381) | about 7 years ago | (#18711235)

Its not like theres no difference between police cars and normal cars, the license plates especially are FAR different.

Police cars in a lot of cities don't use real license plates at all, they use a tag in place of the license plate that shows the car number usually along with a color code for the precinct.

Either way I think police should be able to run red lights if they need to, and that includes following suspicious persons on foot or otherwise. They should not be able to just run red lights for ANY reason, but i think they should be careful and try not to do it at high speed, thats where the problems come from.

Why is this an issue? (3, Informative)

quanticle (843097) | about 7 years ago | (#18711257)

In my city (Minneapolis), all of the traffic lights have sensors on them that warn other motorists when emergency vehicles are approaching. These sensors are wired to the lights and sirens of the vehicle, so that they get priority when approaching intersections. How hard is it to tie these sensors to the red-light cameras so that they're disabled while the emergency vehicle has to go through the intersection?

On the other hand, if the cop didn't have his lights and sirens on when he ran the red light, he should be held accountable just like any other citizen. There was no emergency, therefore he had no right to break the rules.

right-light cameras -- scary (1)

radarsat1 (786772) | about 7 years ago | (#18711277)

Maybe I'm just living under a rock, (I don't drive much, living in downtown Montreal), but I've never even heard of red-light cameras. Sounds awful. Do they have them in Canada? How prevalent are these things?

How did this make it into ./? (1)

jopet (538074) | about 7 years ago | (#18711311)

that article tells us that obviously, many officers do not know the laws very well. So? Why should the ./ crowd be bothered?

It gets better (4, Interesting)

overshoot (39700) | about 7 years ago | (#18711323)

The city of Scottsdale, AZ installed speed cameras on a stretch of State Route 101. The stretch is one of the deadliest in the State, with fatal single-vehicle wrecks at well over 100 mph.

However, in the course of a disagreement between Scottsdale and the State, use of the cameras to generate citations was stopped but the data was still collected for analysis by a local professor. It seems that during that time, a lot of law-enforcement cruisers were caught going far over the limit without lights, etc.

On top of that (IIRC) there was a wreck a bit ago involving a private vehicle and law enforcement; needless to say, the private driver was cited by the cop. Said private driver's attorney subpoena'd the speed cameras and guess what?

I've also heard of other cities where the red-light cameras where police involved in wrecks at intersections wrote up the other party only to have the camera results subpoena'd and turn the tables. Fine by me -- a red-light camera would have saved me a lot of time and expense several years ago.

IMHO you can argue speed cameras either way but red lights should just plain have recorders, period.

Re:It gets better (2, Interesting)

coredog64 (1001648) | about 7 years ago | (#18711551)

The problem with the Scottsdale traffic cameras is that they're trivially simple to circumvent if you're already enough of an asshat to play "Pole Position" in real life.

True story: I was driving on the loop 101 while traffic cameras were still operating. I saw a clapped out 70-something Chevy truck approaching at an estimated 80 MPH. As I have at least some situational awareness, I signaled for a change into the right lane. Mr. Asshat ignores my signal and whips into the right lane (strike one: Passing on the right, strike two: Ignoring signalled intentions). Then, as we approach the traffic camera installation, he pulls down his sun visor and rotates it so that it is between his face and the camera. This leaves him with maybe as much field of vision as your average submarine driver gets from a periscope (strike three: Endangering others). He then jets by the camera at 80.

At this point, I'm tempted to buy a Janet Napolitano mask and wear that whenever I drive the loop 101. When I get the letter asking me who was driving, I'll just forward it to the governor's office ;)

fucking hate red lights (1)

Blue Shifted (1078715) | about 7 years ago | (#18711325)

either they always turn red as i approach, or they won't turn green until the car has stopped. i'm only half joking when i say that everyone should be allowed to run red lights as they see fit. so long as they look both ways and it is safe to do so. V for Vendetta, folks.

They are supposed to obey traffic laws (5, Informative)

rbanzai (596355) | about 7 years ago | (#18711359)

I worked at two police departments.

Officers are supposed to obey all traffic laws. Code 1 and code 2 responses require obeying the laws. Only code 3 calls (lights and siren) allow them to break these laws.

Cops frequently break these rules. Sometimes it's about expedience, sometimes it's about laziness.

Most cops have informal "code 2 high" which means not using lights or siren and breaking traffic laws as safely as possible. Sometimes they will just use a quick squirt of the lights to get through an intersection.

Bottom line: if the regulations specify obeying the law then they damn well ought to. They are setting a horrible example. When the regulations allow it they should of course feel free to go all out.

From Dallas (5, Interesting)

bahwi (43111) | about 7 years ago | (#18711373)

I live in Dallas currently, and let me say, these cameras are starting to go up everywhere, at just about every single light in the city. And Dallas, especially around the downtown area, lights are designed to make you want to run them. There's a set of lights on Commerce St that all match, except one, in the middle, so you can typically breeze halfway through most of them and then you have to wait, can go one, and have to wait for that one then you can finish. It's ridiculous, it's a tiny street never used by anybody, and if they are they have to turn onto Commerce(one way, 3 point intersection).

There's lots of other places, recent construction has literally removed some intersections, but not the lights, which are left running just as before(some with extended hours! Typically blink yellow after 9, but not anymore). Although, I seriously run them and they haven't put cameras up there yet and I would argue and drag it out long enough to make a police officer regret stopping me, but I have seen others stopped because of it. The lights going into downtown(mainly Elm and Main) are typically tuned so you're going to just miss each one and have to wait the full length of time to go, or buses are everywhere and because of continuing construction have to block all traffic going in a certain direction, as the bus lane is now a construction lane. It's quite aggravating and these traffic cams are an insult to everyone in Dallas, "We don't have good roads or a decent traffic system but we'll ticket you for it!" and probably an insult just about everywhere else in the country. I can see reasons, especially at dangerous lights, and I hate to defend myself, but a 3 mile trip shouldn't be 20-30 minutes because of 8 traffic lights(typically having to wait twice at two of them because of some additional not syncing up on cross streets). Fix the system first where running a light is trying to be a bastard instead of trying to go to the grocery store, then let's put them at dangerous intersections and highway/feeder type intersections, and let's go from there.

That being said, and the cameras not about to go anywhere, I find it quite fabulous that an officer is being forced to pay. We had a whole spat of police fired within the past two years because of unpaid traffic fines in different cities and counties and this just adds to the fun. Of course we're completely understaffed, have a terrible corrupt staff, and a high crime rate by police officers who will not look at anything except a speeder. I actually went to report a break in of a car(that was happening at that exact moment) and an office told me he needs to steal the car and speed or he won't care. Then they tried to beat up on our Derby Girls! [dallasobserver.com] C'mon! That's just low.

All people are created equal... (1)

AetherBurner (670629) | about 7 years ago | (#18711387)

and some are more equal than others. I believe that only the Star Wars movies show the correct wording from one of the Chancellors: "No one is above the law." Obviously the police don't like being policed by their own systems. The bad part about this is that I have seen the local gendarmarie here come up to a red light, not under call conditions, hit their lights and sirens to go through a red light, then kill them. I tailed a cop doing this once and he was headed right for the drive-up line at a McD's. I have no symphathy at all for them.

They can't be trusted. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18711493)

The largest gang in america is complaining about following the laws like everyone else. Big surprise. If we can't even trust these fools with cars how are we suppossed to trust them with guns or even any authority? I swear cops are some of the worst criminals we have. 99% give the rest a bad name.

This is way too common (1)

u19925 (613350) | about 7 years ago | (#18711505)

I have police officers violating traffic law left and right even when they are not in emergency. E.g. Taking a left turn from the right most lane and vice versa, not making a complete stop at stop sign, taking right turn on red light where sign says that it is not allowed and so on. Since the camera is only for the red light crossing, the police can still violate 95% of the traffic laws without any penalty.

Sounds like a lot of bureacracy (2, Insightful)

aegl (1041528) | about 7 years ago | (#18711547)

So now every time a camera catches a police car or other emergency vehicle running a red light a notice gets sent, someone has to correlate that notice to the log of emergency calls at the specific date&time. Then check the duty roster to see who was supposed to be driving that vehicle at that time, probably interview a few people to find out who was actually driving it.

Unless there is an emergency, then nobody should be running the redlights ... but this "solution" looks like a nightmare.

How about adding a small RF transmitter to the siren & lights in emergency vehicles so that when *both* are on, any redlight cameras in the vicinity add a notation to photographs they take that there was an emergency in progress. This would allow the emergency vehicles through without tickets and without bureaucracy.

I don't get the controversy here... (1)

The Great Pretender (975978) | about 7 years ago | (#18711555)

If they are performing a public duty, in anyway, great, run the light. If they're just driving around then follow the laws.

Why make a big stink? Surely, if no one complained and bought this into the limelight, then they could always jump the light and then later casually say "oh i thought I saw X...". now they have to justify running the light, most likely in writing and in triplicate. I wonder why people don't realize it's better to be quiet about something, sometimes.

Poor poor piggie (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 7 years ago | (#18711577)

AWE, the poor poor piggie. Poor piggie can't speed when he/she wants and then give a ticket to someone going 1 MPH over the speed limit. Poor piggie. Poor piggie can't run the red light because he/she just wants to. Personally, I think that if I see a lazy piggie running stop signs or red lights, I should be able to report him/her anonymously and have them honestly and independently investigated after he/she has a certain number of reported infractions. Personally, I really LIKE the idea that they will actually be held to the same standard of law as everyone else. Hell, we all know they are just going to give the ticket over to the chief piggie and he/she will cover it up anyway. May as well not even bother. Poor poor piggie. Flame on and BBQ.
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