NMA Email Newsletter: Issue #71

Police Protected

David Goldstein, a TV reporter for CBS2/KCAL9 in Los Angeles, has a knack for uncovering these kinds of stories. Last year, he broke the news that despite safety claims to the contrary from the Los Angeles Police Department, accident rates went up at 20 of the 32 city intersections after those intersections were equipped with red-light cameras.

More recently, Goldstein dug into a story about individual LAPD officers, LA County Sheriff’s deputies, and other county officials with dozens, and sometimes hundreds, of unpaid parking tickets assigned to their personal vehicles. The CBS reporter ultimately obtained a database that listed thousands of such tickets assigned to law enforcement personnel and others in sensitive positions in and around Los Angeles.

The reason these people continue to skate the penalties of unpaid parking tickets is that their home addresses are not listed in the DMV database in relation to their personal license plates. This safety measure — so that criminals cannot track down where police officers live through such a database — creates a large loophole that, unlike for you or me, allows those officers to avoid paying for past due tickets. In fact, without an address on record, they never receive a violation notice in the mail indicating the past due nature of the ticket.

All told, Goldstein uncovered almost 16,000 unpaid tickets. The original penalties totaled close to $700,000, but with late fees, the unrecovered revenue is more in the neighborhood of $1.5 million. Too bad Los Angeles doesn’t allow a similar exception for any of its commuters ticketed for not coming to a complete stop before turning right against a red light, a non-safety related violation that creates about $4.8 million a year in revenue for the city.

Want to find the speed traps in your neighborhood?
Check out the NMA’s speed trap registry at www.speedtrap.org.

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