A tale of two cameras

Pay up and get beat down

By Mark Luedtke

Few issues have generated as much anger as red-light and speed cameras. Dayton’s rulers shut down red-light cameras at the end of 2015 to comply with state law, and they’ve been shut down ever since. It’s funny how current articles about the cameras say Dayton’s rulers shut them down in the middle of 2015 when a search proves they ran until the end of that year. I wonder what rulers believe they gain by lying about that.

Police want us to believe they deployed the cameras for safety, but even the Dayton Daily News hints otherwise. When cameras were shut off in Dec. 2015 it reported, “[City spokeswoman Toni] Bankston added that revenue from the cameras has dropped significantly since July when the city said it would deploy police officers at the automated cameras sites when they are functioning to catch speeders or red light runners.”

Rulers shut the cameras down because they lost revenue. If rulers really cared about safety and the cameras improved safety, officers would have remained deployed with working cameras.

But studies have proven red-light cameras don’t improve safety. Ars Technica noted of one study, “Chicago Tribune released the results of a study it commissioned on injury crashes and red light cameras, revealing that while right angle crash incidents have been reduced, rear-end crashes that resulted in injuries went up 22 percent.”

An honest Chicago alderman admitted the cameras were always about generating revenue.

Dayton police claim the cameras reduce accidents, but that claim benefits rulers who profit from the cameras, so thoughtful people must be skeptical. Even if true, it doesn’t justify preying on people who don’t cause wrecks.

Police strategically target poor neighborhoods with the cameras. They say the locations have the most wrecks. If this is true, rulers should fix the intersections to make them safer, but that will never happen. They profit more from soaking poor people who can’t resist with red-light camera tickets.

One of the most frustrating issues victims of camera tickets dealt with was the tickets take the form of civil penalties, so they can’t be challenged in court like a normal ticket. All the better to steal money from victims.

Now they’re back. After a recent Ohio Supreme Court ruling, Dayton police announced they will install new cameras in the same locations with the same civil penalty process. The DDN explains, “The city of Dayton will not deviate from its plan to install fixed red light and speed-detection cameras at five locations, but police officers won’t be there and the devices will be citing motorists around the clock.”

I like the phrase “will not deviate.” In other words, shut up and pay up. Rulers rule, and serfs suffer. Happy driving.

On the other hand, police body cameras indisputably improve safety of the people and police. ClickOrlando reported on one study. “The Orlando Police Department on Friday released results from a study that shows body cameras worn by officers enhance safety and lessen the number of complaints against law enforcement,” it writes.

That’s a win-win. No decent person could be against that.

Furthermore, police body cameras have exposed ubiquitous police corruption across the nation. They make police behave better. No decent person could be against that either.

But there’s the rub. Rulers and most of their enforcers aren’t decent people. Body cameras cost rulers money gained from corruption. To them, that cost isn’t worth the benefit of improved safety for everybody.

That’s why the DDN reported, “The Dayton Police Department is looking to buy new mobile video recording equipment for its patrol units, but it will not pursue body-worn cameras at this time…

“The city right now is not interested in body-worn camera systems, but the police department may considering [sic] adding the technology in the future, according to the city’s request for proposals.”

The next time you hear some sanctimonious ruler like Mayor Nan Whaley or Police Chief Richard Biehl claim to care about safety, ask them why they refuse body cameras.

The body cameras would especially benefit the poor people and minorities police target for drug crimes—usually phony or pretextual—for easy convictions. That’s Mayor Whaley’s constituency. They can expect continued beatdowns and oppression thanks to her and her allies.

These are exactly the decisions one would expect from unaccountable, socialist rulers. Rulers do not work for the people. They rule. They advance their own interests at the expense of ours.

Dayton police won’t get body cameras until facial recognition surveillance comes with them.

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Columbus-born Marc Katz had a 44-year newspaper career, 41 of those years covering sports, 40 of them at the Dayton Daily News. He now blogs at KatzCopsNSports.com. Reach Dayton City Paper sports writer Marc Katz at MarcKatz@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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