The Corruption of Government Officials (and Police) by the Ticket Camera Industry

By Stephen Donaldson, NMA Florida Member

Money sometimes brings out the worst in people — even police officers and government officials — and it’s clearly happening in the case of red-light cameras.

One example is Lynnwood, Washington Deputy Police Chief Karen Manser asking American Traffic Solutions (ATS) for a job, even as she opened negotiations for the renewal of Lynnwood’s red-light camera contract with ATS.

Here is an excerpt from Manser’s letter to ATS:

Our city contract with ATS is set to expire in November.  Let me know when you might be available to chat about it on the phone.   I would like to get ahead of the game on getting it ready for renewal.

I saw the article in the AZ Republic a week or so ago that said the company is doing very well.  I am looking for a job in AZ so I can move soon.  If you have any idea if I might quality for something with ATS lets talk.

Another officer actually offered to market on behalf of ATS in other states!

These are just the latest examples of the ticket camera industry’s unethical activities. Other problems involve police, government officials and legislators receiving cash, gifts, free hotel rooms and meals paid for by the camera companies.

Here are more examples:

1) Houston, Texas police officer (and Police Officers Union Executive Director) Mark Clark painted RLC’s as a safety “device” to the press in interviews, but neglected to mention that he is a paid lobbyist for ATS! Clark received compensation ranging from $10,000 to $24,999 from American Traffic Solutions, according to the TEC.

2) Oak Ridge, Tennessee Police Chief David Beams received an all-expense paid vacation in Arizona, while collecting his on-duty salary, in return for providing testimony that helped save Redflex Traffic Systems from paying millions in possible damages. Here is an excerpt from article:

Beams spent a total of 38 minutes on the stand gushing about his positive experience with Redflex. For that, he received an all-expense paid vacation in Phoenix that included chauffeured rides from the airport, three nights in the Ritz-Carlton Hotel and prime rib dinners. Redflex picked up the tab for everything but his salary, which Oak Ridge taxpayers were paying because his stay was considered “official business.”

3) The camera company Paradigm Traffic Systems and Durable Specialties provided a  $55,000 2010 Mercedes E550 Sedan to TX rep Linda Harper-Brown for pushing RLC legislation. Here is an excerpt from story:

The Texas Values in Action Coalition (TEXVAC), a group that supports Democratic candidates, filed corruption charges with the Travis County District Attorney’s Office and the US Attorney for the Northern District of Texas after it learned that Harper-Brown had been driving luxury vehicles paid for by a firm that tried to land lucrative traffic camera contracts. Harper-Brown drives a black 2010 Mercedes E550 sedan with official state license plates, a fact confirmed on video by WFAA-TV in Dallas. Paradigm Traffic Systems and Durable Specialties, firms owned by Jeffrey C. Bryan, provided another E-Class and a 2004 Chevy Tahoe to Harper-Brown and her husband William Brown.

Even former Florida State Representative Ron Reagan has been “rewarded” for his prior legislative efforts on behalf of RLCs, as he now works for the ATS front group “National Coalition for Safer Roads.”

Should government officials and police officials who are pushing for photo enforcement be accepting money, gifts free meals and hotels from camera companies — even jobs…?

I openly wonder how many of those police officers see you show up to committee hearings on photo legislation, claiming photo enforcement is a “safety” device, are being compensated directly or indirectly by camera companies.

And when law enforcement becomes about money, which is what has happened with photo enforcement, it breeds conflicts of interest (or corruption).

That was shown this year when New Orleans police officers formed a LLC to “process” photo tickets.  These officers were paid first by New Orleans as cops, then paid again by the shell LLC to review camera tickets.

In fact, years ago ACS was indicted for bribery.  It seems ACS thought it was “ok” to fly cops (and one officer’s kid) to Las Vegas and Phoenix at ACS expense while those very officers rewarded the company with a no-bid camera deal. Though they all weaseled their way out of charges eventually, the mere fact that the cops accepted those “gifts” is disturbing!

I will ask this one question in closing: Is it wise for the “enforcers,” government officials and even lawmakers, to be financially rewarded by the camera companies for contracts or favorable legislation past or present?

Image Credit (Adapted)

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