Note: Some people have erroneously assumed I am dissing on the Police Department. Wrong. I think Chief Porter and his department take their jobs very seriously, and strive to excel at them. I’m not alone thinking that; in fact, to quote from the August 2007 DG Monthly Report:
On August 8, Chief Porter and Village Manager Pavlicek attended an awards ceremony hosted by the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police and IDOT. The ceremony recognized the Downers Grove Police Department for accomplishments in the area of traffic safety on a state and national level. The Police Department was given a LIDAR speed enforcement device as an award for its accomplishments.
Budgeting $100,000 to buy the system was never discussed at the budget meetings I attended. In fact, the PD budget was skipped over completely. I went back and looked at the budget, and I still don’t see the line item clearly explained. The first benefit, reduction of accidents, is just flat out false. Note the only source cited is the IIHS, the insurance industry shills. There is no providing any actual reportage of fact.
Don’t blame Chief Porter for that. He has done what hundreds of other Chiefs across the country have also done. In the search to make communities safer, and to more efficiently deploy his resources, they have gone to meetings, listened to speakers from the IIHS and RLC suppliers, and accepted as fact what is carefully tailored incomplete misinformation, especially with regards to safety.
Update: Page 2-15 of the Adopted 2008 Budget, under Future Years, clearly states:
Research and possibly implement a Red Light Photo Enforcement to enhance traffic safety
The Iowa study quoted here of course credits Richard Retting of the IIHS for their contributions. And you can download the study direct from RedSpeed Illinois’ own website. None of the communities studied, after reading the final product, endorsed the report, mainly because the report does no before and after comparisons of the same intersections. How did our PD manage to find the most favorable, and most flawed, study not directly done by the IIHS? They, and hundreds of other Police Departments, were given this report and the infamous Oxnard CA study by RLC suppliers and/or the IIHS, and told these were definitive, accurate reports.
Enforcing the law at Finley and Butterfield can be hard. There are plenty of drunk drivers blasting around there that would be happy to trade a DUI from a living breathing DG cop for a civil ticket taken by a RLC. Is that a reason for taking a cop off that beat?
Under Potential Issues finally acknowledging the truths (not perceptions, as the report attempts to label them) that are so single mindedly denied. Again, the speakers from the IIHS and the camera suppliers tout these exact potential issues in their presentations.
Now we’re getting down to the brass tacks of costs versus revenue. Two and a half weak pages on safety, 7 pages on revenues. The priority here is? Revenues.
Of course the RLC companies will work closely with us: it’s a cash cow for them at the beginning, and if they can expand locations and services (say from just red light running to speed enforcement) it’s the gravy train that keeps on going.
Damn straight DuPage County will want their piece of the pie. Why wouldn’t they?
Note that all five RLC companies spec in steady revenues each year, instead of the documented declining revenues that will happen (unless countermeasures like shortening yellow light timing are taken).
I have to assume DG Chief of Police Robert Porter has read the 374 page HIGHWAY SAFETY DESK BOOK, prepared by the Highway Safety Committee of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, especially the part where it says, specifically about RLC:
When considering the acquisition of photo enforcement technology, it is often best to deploy red light running cameras first, before using it for speed enforcement. Public support is generally greatest for the red light running enforcement; once public support and confidence have been attained, further applications can be considered.
Staff recommends going ahead with RLC. Doesn’t say what the revenues will be used for, but they want them. At least staff does not make the statement they concur that RLC make for safer intersections.