Taking Money In Name Of “Safety” – One San Diego California Red Light Camera Accounts For 1/4 Of All City’s Camera Tickets – 4,672 Last Year – $480 Each Because City Won’t Fix Bad Intersection

June 24, 2012

SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA – The top spot for red-light tickets in San Diego is the intersection of North Harbor Drive and West Grape Street near Lindbergh Field — a tourist welcome spot with chronic traffic backups.

The city’s red-light cameras spotted 4,672 violations there last year, nearly a quarter of all camera tickets written in the city, according to a review of city data by The Watchdog. That’s 389 per month, or about a dozen a day.

The next closest intersection was Aero Drive at Murphy Canyon Road, with 3,170 tickets last year.

The stated purpose of the red-light camera program is to prevent violations and, by extension, accidents. Officials say the Harbor and Grape location’s mission is to keep motorists from blocking the intersection during gridlock through fear of a $480 ticket.

City transportation spokesman Bill Harris said the city plans to add a third left-turn lane from southbound Harbor to eastbound Grape to relieve congestion, which may be causing the red-light running.

“The camera at Grape and Harbor is a traffic control effort just as the installation of a third turn lane will be once completed,” Harris said. “The camera was not installed, nor has the city maintained it, for reasons based solely on accident statistics.”

Attorney Mitch Mehdy, whose firm brands itself as The Original Mr. Ticket, said he has represented several tourists who have received one of the Harbor and Grape camera’s tickets. He said the camera gives the city a bad name.

“I get calls from all over the United States and from Canada,” Mehdy said. “They basically say, ‘yeah I had a good trip, and then I got this thing in the mail.’”

The intersection was first outfitted with red-light cameras in 1999. Despite hundreds of violations per month, state accident data shows that there were only two injury crashes at the intersection from 2001 to 2011.

Harris said the traffic backing up around the intersection is nevertheless an area hazard. He said it poses a safety risk to pedestrians weaving around cars stopped in crosswalks and to drivers entering or exiting businesses into the log-jammed traffic on North Harbor Drive.

“Traffic planning is not about some small radius,” Harris said. “We have to look beyond an intersection to see what effects will occur.”

Related: Urination tickets saturate Pacific Beach

The city in 2002 commissioned a study to restore confidence in its red-light program, which was on hiatus from 2001 to 2003 because of bad publicity and unfavorable court decisions.

The audit found the program did not reduce red light violations at the intersection, which had a very low crash rate. The audit suggested traffic engineering improvements, rather than ongoing ticket issuing.

Harris said the city has extended North Harbor Drive’s left turn lanes, improved signal timing throughout the area and has made entrances and exits to businesses safer. He said the intersection’s camera encourages all kinds of drivers to keep the intersection clear.

“That’s a busy intersection for everyone. Certainly people who are renting cars are tourists, but there are also people picking up relatives from the airport,” Harris said. “We don’t build intersections just for tourists.”

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Connecticut State Police Memo Encouraged Ticket Writing To Meet Quota Based On Tickets Written By Another State Police Barracks – Another Memo Offers Free Pizza For Shift With Most Tickets

March 31, 2012

CONNECTICUT – An eye-opening state police internal memorandum obtained by News 8 challenges state troopers in one barracks to out-perform their trooper colleagues by writing hundreds of tickets on Friday.

The memo, distributed at Troop I in Bethany and obtained exclusively by News 8, basically lays down the gauntlet and any driver on a state highway is fair game.

According to this document, starting tonight at midnight, patrols will be stepped up. The memo from Lt. Anthony Schirillo says in part;

“…we have to issue at least 60 infractions / Misdemeanors each shift for a total of 180 infractions in order to outperform both Troop F and Troop G.

“…One day Troop F issued 301 tickets. Troop G responded by issuing 345 in one day. We can do better…

“I am asking that everyone, myself included, contribute to this effort…

“NOTE if we happen to issue 350 tickets in one day that would be stellar.”

News 8 spoke at length with Lt. Paul Vance, spokesman for the Connecticut state police. In response to the allegation that this is a quota system, which the state police union alleges, Lt. Vance said no one is given a quota, this is not a game, they don’t do that, and have never done that.

Another memo obtained by News 8 says “The master sergeant and I will buy pizza for the shift with the highest total.”

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Jackson County Michigan Judge James Justin Suspended After Fixing His And Wife’s Tickets

September 21, 2010

JACKSON, MICHIGAN – Court records show that a Jackson County judge who was suspended indefinitely in July by the Michigan Supreme Court dismissed nine traffic cases against himself and his wife.

The Jackson Citizen Patriot reports Sunday that records show that District 12 Judge James Justin had four parking tickets he received from 2002 to 2004 “dismissed after explanation” to himself.

The newspaper reports he also dismissed five traffic tickets received by his wife between 1999 and 2009. Court documents show that the nine tickets carried potential fines and costs of $751.

Justin’s lawyer Dennis Kolenda says his client acknowledges that he was wrong but his actions warrant no more than a reprimand.

The Judicial Tenure Commission is investigating misconduct complaints.

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