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70 Electra

"Smash & Grab" of Older Cars?

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Matt Harwood,

I really don't want to debate this subject to death, but...

Things must really be different in Ohio.

Your quote of:

"The police don't much care about preventing crime." Sounds crazy to me.

I don't make any more money at all based on tickets, or arrests, or any other measure of "productivity" of me or any of my troops.

I do, however, get evaluated on crime statistics. Did you ever watch the old TV show, "The District", where the police commanders were called in to a Comstat Meeting where they had to defend their response to crime and explain how they were combating the crimes in their district, and what methods they were using to reduce the crime rate? Each month we have those meetings. At least here, the police commanders are doing everything that they can do to reduce crime.

Also, In NC, as I have said before, there is no revenue to the city from Red Light Cameras. Never has been and never will be. Locally, the cameras were installed in the highest crash locations. Upon initial installation, the numbers of violators (and crashes) were rather high. As soon as the public figured out that the camera catches them every time, they stopped running the lights and the number of violations (and number of crashes at those intersections) were reduced.

Your quote of "the yellows are shortened". I have never heard of any such craziness. Maybe in Ohio, but not here. There are actually what are supposed to be National Standards about traffic light timing. I have had to sit through way too many boring meetings with Traffic Engineers explaining all of the intricate details of all that they do to try to explain it here, but all I can say about that is Not Here!

The cameras that we have take multiple photos. It shows the potential violator upon the approach of a car that appears unlikely to stop (this shows the red light before the car is in the intersection) and another after the car enters the intersection. A human being has to view all of the photos and confirm an actual violation.... i.e. the car has to be actually out in the middle of the intersection, not stopped somewhere beyond the stop bar. If there is not a clear and substantial violation, no ticket is issued.

OK, Now, Hopefully back to the original topic.

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IMHO, Most police officers do not sign up for the job because they want to be tax collectors. Municipalities find this an easy way to raise money. The unfortunate consequence is that a skilled resource is diverted from the job he was trained to do.

so I don't blame the officer much - but I do blame those that create his assignment. Radar guns and photo set ups are there to collect money.

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Sorry, Matt, I didn't mean to insult you. I know cops are generally good, hard-working people who do care about the public they serve. However, some crimes, like the smashing of old iron, are the kinds of crimes that aren't pro-actively solved. When those guys broke into my house in broad daylight and unloaded my plumbing using the front door, there wasn't any pro-active crime stopping in the city with the highest taxes in the state and the most highly paid police force. All I got was some paperwork, the suggestion that I should have installed a security system (on a vacant house), and a huge mess of fingerprint dust on every single surface, including the light-colored carpet that never quite came clean. So I'm a little bitter--they didn't treat it like it was important, and it continued (and continues) to happen in the houses around mine. There is no increased patrolling or enforcement. However, there is an officer on the main street 1/4 mile away during both morning and evening rush hours every day--probably 4 hours of his time--writing tickets. That's hard to stomach, I'm afraid. I know cops don't make the decisions, and if they had a choice, they would indeed be doing real crime fighting. But most of the time, they aren't making those calls.

As for the light cameras, my uncle worked for Lockheed-Martin, the largest supplier of the red-light camera systems. And that's the deal (so who gets the money generated by the cameras if not the city in which they're installed--if it's a private company, I'd be seriously fuming if I got one of those tickets).

Here's more reading:

Red light cameras and the secret "gotcha"

Relevant information: <span style="font-style: italic">[The city of] Mesa and Lockheed have rigged the cameras to favor themselves. On approach, first you cross the wide white "stop bar" painted on the pavement. You're supposed to stop before you reach it. Next comes the crosswalk. If you cross both on yellow, you think you're into the intersection and should continue through. Nope. Mesa flags a violation "when your car clears the second inductance loop" buried in the pavement, according to Mesa police officer Terry Gibbs. I checked with the system engineer. No, the system triggers when your car first breaks into the loop; so much for her court testimony. The cops are confused, and so are the drivers, because this line is completely unmarked. </span>

The day the red light camera machine got wrecked

<span style="font-style: italic">Common sense says if the offense is grievous enough to need surveillance by electronic means, then it's also threatening enough that the perp ought to be stopped immediately. That's what an officer does when he hands a ticket in through your lowered window. But sending out a notice in bulk mail, to be opened a few weeks later, has too much in common with credit-card billing to be confused with law enforcement.

Moreover, if these traffic transgressions are truly dire, then authorities are obligated to grab the right guy. The officer at your window performs that service, too. But Instamatic justice doesn't even try. The car owner gets the ticket, no matter who is driving.

Fairfax County, Virginia chopped red-light running to less than 1/10th its former rate at the corner of U.S. 50 and Fair Ridge Drive. The miracle was accomplished by lengthening the yellow to 5.5 seconds from 4.0. </span>

Rear end crashes go up after red light cameras go in

Relevant info: <span style="font-style: italic">IIHS's claim of safety from cameras is flatly contradicted by a number of cities that have tried them. "At some intersections [with cameras] we saw no change at all, and at several intersections we actually saw an increase in traffic accidents," admitted San Diego police chief David Bejarano on ABC News's Nightline.

In Charlotte, North Carolina, station WBTV had this to say, "Three years, 125,000 tickets, and $6 million in fines later, the number of accidents at intersections in Charlotte has gone down less than one percent. And the number of rear-end accidents, which are much more common, has gone up 15 percent."

In Greensboro, the News & Record reports, "There has not been a drop in the number of accidents caused by red-light violations citywide since the first cameras were installed in February 2001. There were 95 such accidents in Greensboro in 2001, the same number as in 2000. And at the 18 intersections with cameras, the number of wrecks caused by red-light running has doubled."</span>

Robot revenuing: When the cameras go up, the money comes in, shorten the yellow to boost the take.

Relevant statistic: <span style="font-style: italic">San Diego saw a $2 million increase in revenues in the first year after trimming its yellow light “grace period” to 0.1 second versus 0.3 to 0.5 before. In Dallas, 7 of the 10 highest revenue-raising cameras have yellows shorter than the minimum recommendation of the Department of Transportation. </span>

When the choice comes down to safety versus the money, safety doesn’t stand a chance.

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Matt Harwood,

Apology accepted. Sorry that you had a bad experience with your local police department. We have a lot of people who have moved down here from lots of other states. Most seem to find that the people down here are a little bit easier to get along with and look out for each other. We still have room for a few more if you want to consider moving down here....

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Matt,

I also didn't intend to paint the law enforcement agencies of NC with the wide tax collector brush. You appear to be a very rare exception to the rule of using the police to fatten the city revenues. And, I think your legislature was both smart and doing you a favor in getting you out of the money collection business.

I find it distrubing when I read things like "we don't have a ticket quota" and then read "but that can be a factor in evaluating the 'effectiveness' of an officer." Sure sounds like 'more tickets written = better employee evaluation" to most people using common sense.

Now back to the original topic. Most police departments do NOT have officers sitting around somewhere looking for crime to happen, such as a very nice old car driven to a scrap dealer. That is usually done by investigators, detectives, or whatever they are called in a particular department. And, they are not going to sit around and slap a scrap dealer with a ticket or charge him with an offense that may get him a 2-5 year sentence.....unless the mayor's (or city concilman or distric attorney's) classic car is stolen.

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Actually they spend more time at pawn shops, but our detectives do also routinely review ths Scrap Metal Dealers. They are regulated here and we have access to their records.

The funniest true story about a vehicle stolen and scrapped that I know about did not involve a mayor or councilman or district attorney's vehicle. It involved a crack addict whose broken down truck was towed away from a crack house and scrapped. We arrested the guy (her dealer) who had the car towed away and scrapped.

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An interesting fact about our police departments.

A few years ago my wife and I stopped at a resturant in our city for lunch with my Delorean. When we came out we saw that the grill with the Delorean emblem had been stolen. I called the police and made out a full report. I had to buy another grill for $350 and instsll it. I was a ciy Alderman at the time and I spread the word around about my grill. About six months later a friend of mine called me and said he had something I might like, I went to his place and he showed me my Delorean grill with the emblom. I said where did you get that? THE POLICE AUTION !! And it was marked Deloean grill and had a $5 price on it. The police were more interested in the money they get from their auction than they are in returning stolen goods. Of course it might have been difficult to find the owner, there are two Deloreans in our County and one has a police report on it.

So the next time you have something stolen go to the police aution, you may be able to buy it back cheap.

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