STL Police Officers Votes Against Red Light Cameras

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Board members with the St. Louis Police Officers’ Association approved a motion Monday night opposing the use of red-light cameras.

Association president Gary Wiegert tells RFT that the motion passed overwhelmingly with just a few of the board’s nineteen members voting against the measure. The motion states:

SLPOA is in opposition to the red light cameras because they limit interactions of police officers with the public. Additionally, revenue collected from this technology is not earmarked for law enforcement or any other public safety project.

Wiegert says that the police officers’ association issued the motion in support of attorney Chet Pleban — who last year filed suit against the City of Arnold over its use of red-light cameras — and state Sen. Jim Lembke, who proposed a bill earlier this year that would ban the cameras in Missouri.

“What really ticked off members of the board was the report that aldermen weren’t paying these citations and even going to the police department to have these tickets fixed,” says Wiegert, whose organization represents 1,100 of the police department’s 1,400 officers. “We hope that legislators or attorneys can use our motion to help make their case against these cameras.”

St. Louis began using the controversial cameras in 2007 following a year long delay prompted — in part — by an RFT investigation into how the city bid for the cameras. Wiegert says that the association currently has no plans to take its motion to the mayor’s office or to police chief Dan Isom.

He adds that the motion has nothing to do with job security. “Believe me, we have plenty other things we could be doing besides issuing traffic tickets,” says Wiegert. “But the important thing to understand is that there is a lot more to a traffic stop than just issuing a ticket — there’s also checking to make sure the driver has insurance and seeing if their license is up to date. The way it is now, someone could steal your car and run a red-light and you’d get the ticket. We believe that traffic tickets should be made against individuals, not their vehicles.”

And this from thenewspaper.com

Missouri Cops Oppose Red Light Cameras
Police in St. Louis, Missouri oppose red light camera program that legal advisors to camera firm operates illegally.

St Louis PoliceThe St. Louis, Missouri Police Officers’ Association on Monday spoke out against the use of red light cameras as a revenue raising tool. The police union adopted a resolution opposing automated ticketing as state lawmakers consider measures that would authorize use of the devices statewide. The group representing rank-and-file police officers stands in opposition to the high-ranking officials represented by the Missouri Police Chiefs’ Association.

“Police chiefs serve at the pleasure of the mayor — they’re political jobs,” said Jesse Irwin, co-founder of Missourians against Red Light Cameras. “I’m not surprised that the Missouri Police Chiefs’ organization would be for the cameras. I’m also not surprised that the men and women out on the street enforcing the law would be against them — they don’t work.”

Irwin’s organization claims to have 500 members willing to circulate a petition that will force a referendum on the red light camera issue in St. Louis. The group is joined by Don’t Tread on Me, another band of photo enforcement opponents in the city of Arnold who yesterday circulated documents showing that American Traffic Solutions (ATS) knew from the start that its ticketing program rested on a weak legal foundation. A May 2005 letter from ATS’ law firm, Stinson Morrison Hecker LLP, explained that Missouri law does not allow red light cameras to issue tickets that carry only a monetary penalty. Six months later, Arnold became the first city in the state issuing automated fines with ATS in charge of the program.

“We do not believe, however, that the municipalities possess the authority to adopt an ordinance that would permit the municipality to circumvent the Missouri Director of Revenue’s point system for the suspension and revocation motor vehicle licenses,” Stinson Morrison Hecker attorney Stephen P. Chinn wrote. “Under current Missouri law, every court with jurisdiction over any state laws or county or municipal ordinances regulating the operation of vehicles on highways must report, to the Missouri Highway Patrol, a record of any plea or finding of guilty of any person convicted of any moving violation under the state, county or municipal regulations within ten days after the record is made… The mandatory language used in the text of the statute supports a conclusion that an ordinance of this nature would conflict with state law.”

The legal opinion noted that a number of Jackson County judges also spoke out publicly against a 1992 photo radar proposal on the grounds that ignoring license points violated state law. Despite the clarity of the statutes involved, nearly two dozen Missouri cities have established automated ticketing programs that do not issue license points.

“It is appalling to think that the city council at that time had legal advice from ATS’ own legal counsel stating what they were intending to do was illegal, and yet they disregarded it at the thought of how much cash these cameras could bring in to city coffers,” Arnold City Councilman Matthew Hay said in a statement.

Although red light camera tickets in Missouri are vulnerable to court challenge, legislation including Senate Bill 58 and House Bill 241 would authorize their use.

An ATS spokesman said there was “nothing new” in the charges brought by the St. Louis and Arnold activists.

A copy of the legal opinion is available in a 500k PDF file at the source link below.

Source: PDF File Municipal authority to adopt automated traffic enforcement measures in Missouri (Stinson Morrison Hecker LLP, 3/11/2009)

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Published in: on March 11, 2009 at 11:40 pm  Comments (2)  

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2 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. This cameras on the street should pass by the voter of each city 1 st to become a law and without the majority votes in the city it should not be legal.

  2. Red light cameras violate the basics of our freedoms guarnateed by the US Contitution. A ticket is issued to the vehicle owner eventhough this is no proof that he personally violated the traffic light. The owner is presumed guilty unless he incriminates someone else as the driver.

    FOLLOW THE MONEY.

    Red light cameras are a money grab for the city, but mostly the camera companies.

    FOLLOW THE MONEY

    If the City stopped colecting fines from the vehicle owners, would the camera companies have any interest in the program?

    FOLLOW THE MONEY

    Have the State law changed so points are issued for red light cameras and see if the cities, camera companies and politicans can stand the heat from the public. They now hide behind a false claim that the cameras save lives and the fine is just like a parking violation. Parking violations are just $3.00 to $10.00. Red light fines are $60.00 to $125.000. If they were reduced to parking violation rates would there be intrest in the program from camera companies or cities?

    A Money Grab is the route cause for the red light cameras. Stop the money grab and the need goes away by itself.

    . . . John


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