“This technology creates a safe environment,” Mayor Kevin Burns told the Kane County Chronicle. I get the feeling we’re going to have to yet one more time.
Yes! The number of accidents at and appear to have decreased from 2010 to 2011, but we still haven’t hit this year’s prime driving season, so that jury’s still out. Even if this positive trend continues, a two-year comparison is not what I’d call “statistically significant.”
Beyond that, can we automatically attribute any car crash abatement to the installed at those intersections? I think paying 87 bucks to fill up your Ford Explorer can have a seriously sobering effect on the most aggressive of drivers. I don’t know about you, but Randall doesn’t seem to be quite the same speedway these days.
Before we continue, let me state for the record that, not only have I failed to receive a red-light camera citation, but I haven’t been subjected to a suburban moving violation in more than two decades. That clarification is critical because before I can even complain about those contemptible cameras, the police spokesperson immediately asks me, “Where did you get your ticket?”
Let me also stipulate that I believe the city of Geneva installed them for the right reasons—education and safety—and not for revenue generation.
Finally, for the sake of this specific argument, let’s say that Geneva’s cameras have indeed created a safer Randal Road environment. I still say they’re a despicable abomination that needs to go the way of the Humvee.
The irony is (you know I love that word), nothing proves my point more than the core traffic-stop philosophy of the Geneva Police Department themselves!
As we, a motorist pulled over by the GPD stands an 86 percent chance of walking away with a warning. If you manage to get a traffic ticket in Geneva, you really screwed up!
Some cynical citizens say the ulterior motive behind this leniency is the fact that Geneva is a travel destination and the police have “orders” not to aggravate visitors. I hate to tell you, but they kinda get the idea of where you live when you hand them your driver's license. So much for that theory.
Inexorably, when it comes to traffic stops, the GPD is clearly more concerned with education than with remuneration. And that’s exactly how it should be. Because once our civic leaders begin to see law enforcement as just another revenue stream, you won’t be able to tell the difference between the cops and the criminals.
Even worse, when a private company is permitted to profit from the commission of a crime, that puts that company on a par with the mob and it makes the police complicit. Now, consider the camera companies’ aggressive lobbying efforts, and I’d rather take my chances with the mob.
Look at Chicago. It starts with a $600 million deficit and ends with red-light cameras every other block and a preposterous private-company parking-meter program that cost Mayor Daley any chance at re-election. Unless my wife drags me there kicking and screaming, I will not set foot in Chicago.
So what I’m saying is, with such a unique and perfect traffic stop philosophy, why undermine it with the installation of even one red-light camera? And that very debate has been a longstanding topic of lengthy conversation between myself and GPD Cmdr. Julie Nash who, along with Cmdr. Eric Passarelli, oversee the camera program.
One could argue that as long as Nash and Passarelli are presiding over that program, those camera tickets will be equitably administered. But I can foresee a day when both of them move on to chief positions in other departments, and then what?
What happens when Gov. Quinn, who’s hatched yet another scheme to siphon money from municipalities, finally succeeds? I’m not a big slippery-slope proponent, but we’re already well on our way down that icy law-enforcement-as-profit-center mountainside.
“In my heart of hearts I know these cameras have made Randall Road safer,” Nash said. “A yellow light doesn’t mean gun it. I know we put them there for the right reasons. We don’t know who’s life they may have saved.”
And there’s the rub! Even Cmdr. Nash had to admit it’s difficult to prove the cameras have a positive effect. And we know what happens to a traffic court case when the officer can’t prove his contention “beyond a reasonable doubt.”
So why risk a hard-earned reputation on the basis of something that not only may not work, but generates such a rabid backlash? Let’s get rid of Geneva (and all) red light cameras once and for all.
I’ve said it before, if those patently unconstitutional devices really modified driver behavior, those “upstanding” and “safety conscious” camera companies would have already put themselves out of business.