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2/3/2012Photo Enforcement Salesman Focuses on Revenue Generation
Speed camera vendor sells photo enforcement as a cure for budgetary ills.
Companies that operate red light and speed cameras are always looking for receptive city councilmen willing to sign up for automated ticketing services. The general public rarely has the opportunity to review the pitch these firms make behind closed doors, as it is often contrary to the message they present to the general public. This turned out to be the case after a salesman at an upstart photo enforcement provider B and W Sensors decided to email a member of the Arnold, Missouri city council.
"How can we provide a 'NO' cost solution to the enclosed picture?" asked company co-founder John M. Blaine in a February 1 email. The caption on the attached image read: "Budget issues? Take what you've got and make it work."
Baine had sent this message to Doris Borgelt, a recently elected member of the council who campaigned last year as a vocal opponent of photo ticketing. Borgelt made it clear she did not like red light cameras in her campaign literature, interviews and in door-to-door meetings with over a thousand Arnold residents. That did not deter Baine, who insisted B and W's speed cameras represented a solution to the city's budgetary problems, which was a suggestion Borgelt did not find particularly appropriate for Arnold.
"We may be in better shape than most cities," Borgelt told TheNewspaper.
Baine's pitch nonetheless laid out five points emphasizing his system is provided "at 'NO' cost to the community or the PD," that the system has "no cost, no termination fee, no exit penalty," that it is ideal for "relieving pressure on the streets and public works budgets," that the system is legal, and that it created the possibility of forming "strategic partnerships."
Arnold does not currently use speed cameras, and the interest in the red light cameras has waned since the city increased the duration of the yellow time at intersections one year ago. Violations have since decreased substantially in the program operated by American Traffic Solutions (ATS). The latest data from December show the positive trend has continued.
"It's a 91 percent decrease in violations," Borgelt said. "So if they're going to get a tenth of the income that they had been planning on, I don't see it being profitable for ATS to keep them there."
As a new entrant into the marketplace, Baine must sharply undercut the pricing of established competitors ATS and Redflex Traffic Systems of Australia. Baine offered a free tracking system as a reward for Arnold if it would sign up and issue a certain minimum number of tickets.
"As a bonus we will pay for a service that offers a GPS tracking system that can help locate senior citizens or folks with autism if they have taken a walk and become confused," Baine wrote on October 26. "This service covers up to 200 of your citizens and we will do one system for each ASE system deployed in the jurisdiction that produces at least 65 paid citations per day with a minimum fine of $115 for folks 10 to 15 MPH above the posted limit (the municipality collects 60 percent of the face value of the fine)."
Borgelt was amused by Baine's persistence, but she remained unpersuaded. She informed the salesman that engineering solutions have proved far more effective than automated enforcement in improving safety.
"Is it about the money?" Baine wrote in a September 20 email. "Of course it is. It just isn't coming from where the angry crowd had anticipated. And therefore the political will is with you. This pro-active position will support and protect your decision making process and provide real dollar returns back to your community."
From: John M Baine
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