Posted by kallahar on Sep.19.01 at 05:57 pm PDT.
kallahar writes You're more likely to win the lottery five times than to be hurt at an intersection in Costa Mesa. Of course, that didn't stop the government from installing video cameras at an intersection "for public safety." Hmm, somehow I bet that their profits are much more important than their concern for our safety.
Late Tuesday night, when most of the city was asleep, our city council approved the use of live video cameras at major intersections to watch our citizens.
The council made this decision based on a report which seemed to show that intersections in Costa Mesa were becoming increasingly unsafe and required additional patrolling beyone what the police currently provide.
The report, presented by Lieutenant Karl Schuler with data from the Transportation Services Division of the city, and information provided by the manufacturer of the system, Nestor Inc., outlines the facts of Costa Mesa's most dangerous intersections from 1999 through August of 2001.
I was sure I'd see evidence that these cameras were needed to lower the number of deaths and accidents in our growing, ever mobile town. After all, public safetly should be the city councils number one priority.
Imagine my surprise when the report showed the number of deaths at the 11 busiest intersections in Costa Mesa, during the last 2 years and 8 months came to a grand total of . . .
There were NO deaths.....
Guess how many people were severely injuried at these same intersections?
Yes only THREE (3)...
And of course that is three too many.
But damn! In a city this size with so many busy intersections, that's pretty damn good!
This report did not in anyway show the number of cars that passed safely through these intersections for comparison. But a quick, conservative guess of 125 cars per direction, per hour, per day (just sit at a light and count the number of cars that pass through a light while you're waiting. At rush hour this number will increase dramatically), adds up to 12,000 per intersection per day. Mulitiplied by those 11 intersections equals 132,000 cars a day. Multiply this by 365 days in a year, we get 48.1 million going through these interesections every year. Multiply this by the 2 years and 8 months that this study sampled, we arrive at 112 million autos passing through these 11 intersections during this study period.
Since the police officer presenting the report stated that nearly 99% of all accidents involved just two cars, we can see that in the two years and eight months of this study only 6 cars out of 112 million were involved in accidents leading to serious injury. This is 12 times higher then getting 5 out of 5 numbers on the lottery. And remember, no one died from any of these accidents.
This is good news! The Costa Mesa police department, city planners, and the transportation service have really done a great job at keeping us safe. It feels good to live in a city where our worst 11 intersections have resulted in no deaths in nearly three years. I wonder if other cities our size can boast of this record?
Nestor and the Costa Mesa city council are attempting to convince us that these cameras will provide us with fewer accidents and safer streets. But from the report given, we realistically CAN'T get any safer.
If we can't statistically get any safer, why do we need the cameras?
The answer is money. Money for the city, money for the state, but mainly, money for Nestor, who plan on profitting from our city councils good intentions based on biased data.
Nestor, the company that makes the system (not the Lockheed system from San Diego), will install the cameras for free in exchange for $97.56 per citation written (The city gets $43.36). As a result of these new cameras, Nestors profits will skyrocket.
No wonder the emphasis is on citations and not on public safety.
The report did NOT include the number of citations written at those 11 worst intersections (I wonder why)... but they DID include TOTAL citations given at ALL stoplights in the entire city -- I guess to make it look like there is a serious problem.
The report did NOT measure safety, nor give evidence that these cameras will increase safety.
Instead the report measured citations given.
My roomate came to the council meeting and asked if the cities that had these types systems (San Diego, Irvine, Oxnard, LA, Garden Grove, Berverly Hillls, Long Beach) showed a decrease in other crimes... after all, if police were now free from citing red light violators at intersections, they must be able to show a benefit of reduced crime elsewhere. Couldn't they?
Hmmmm... no mention of that in the report
Well... perhaps they could show that ACCIDENTS went down at those intersections that had red light cameras. Nothing like that can be found in the report either. If the motive to install cameras is actually public safety, why didn't the official city report at least attempt to show a relationship between the cameras and increased safety.
Maybe there is none.
Don't get me wrong. Public safety is my primary concern. Maybe there IS a public safety benefit to the redlight cameras. But the City of Costa Mesa and Nestor offered no support for this--it isn't even mentioned.
Has Nestors system been tested and measured in the real world? Are the results in?
Well, the report states that Nestor has signed contracts and is in the pre-installation and installation phase in only five other cities.
Make sure you read and understand that last line. According to the official city report, Nestor has NO operational red light video camera systems up and running. Anywhere. No track record, no before and after data, no cause and effect, no experience with legal challenges, nothing solid. They try to make it look like they have a lot of experience by listing 10 other cities that they are currently bidding for, but it's all a smoke screen.
We live in a world where tornados blow down towns, earthquakes topple bridges and where people hurt others by accident and on purpose.
We must safeguard our citizens against these dangers in the best possible ways.
However, Nestor's video cameras can not stop accidents. In the meantime, by reducing law enforcement into simple revenue generation, we have ensured that someone will benefit from these cameras:
Vice Chairman, Libertarian Party of Orange County, California At Large Member Libertarian Party of California Executive Committee Elected Member, Orange County Central Committee, 2nd District Appointed Member, Costa Mesa Child Care and Youth Services Committee Orange County Director, American Medical Marijuana Association http://letfreedomgrow.com http://www.thirdwheelgroup.com