Red light cameras are green lights for bribery

Red light cameras are green lights for bribery

DENVER—The former CEO of red light camera company Redflex Traffic Systems Inc., a company accused of bribing officials in Colorado last year, pleaded guilty to bribing government officials over a period of eight years. The Department of Justice probe is likely to extend into Colorado.

“Gov. John Hickenlooper strangely gave the red light to needed reform by vetoing two pieces of widely supported bipartisan bills that would have curtailed the abuse of these revenue collecting government surveillance machines,” said Advancing Colorado Executive Director Jonathan Lockwood. “As the light shines on these issues, Coloradans have every right to ask legitimate questions. Coloradans should be calling the governor’s office and asking what he has to say for himself for vetoing this bipartisan legislation. This type of corruption is why we care about what happens in other states, because what can happen in Texas, Ohio, or Arizona can happen here in Colorado too.”

Denver first set up red light cameras at intersections in 2008, when it hired Redflex Traffic Systems. The city council at that time approved a contract that would pay Redflex a maximum of $1.1 million annually.

Denver, a city with a population of 2,697,000, collects $6.5 million a year in fines from red-light cameras. Denver’s cameras target drivers for minor infractions, such as ticketing vehicles that stop with their front wheels slightly over the white line at intersections. In 2011, this revenue-enhancing strategy increased citations by 465 percent, according to the Denver Post.

Last year, Fort Collins collected about $650,000 in tickets and paid 60 percent of the funds to Redflex.

Hickenlooper vetoed House Bill 1098 earlier this summer, which said no jurisdiction could implement a new photo enforcement program without submitting the question to the local voters. HB 1098 had passed the House 40 to 23 and the Senate 21 to 14. He also vetoed Senate Bill 276, which was an outright ban on camera issued citations with the exception of tolls and was voted in favor by 38 to 25 in the House and 25 to 10 in the Senate.