6/26/2015Another California Grand Jury Knocks Red Light Cameras
Grand jury finds deception in the management of the Citrus Heights, California red light camera program.
More than sixty cities have dropped the use of red light cameras in California, but the industry's woes do not end there. The potential of a federal investigation looms as former executives at Redflex Traffic Systems of Australia admitted they bribed government officials in the Golden State. On top of this, the Sacramento County Grand Jury issued a report this week blasting the city of Citrus Heights for mismanaging its contract with Redflex.
"It is the finding of this grand jury that Citrus Heights chronically and systematically ignores its own policies for oversight, testing, monitoring, maintenance and record keeping," the report explained.
The report singled out a problem with yellow signal times at Citrus Heights intersections. State law mandates that the yellow interval last at least 3.9 seconds where the cameras are located, but the city's signals can drop to just 3.5 seconds before triggering a fault code. This is a problem, because the city makes no other effort to verify that the signal times are consistent with state law.
"During the grand jury's informal timing at the site of each red light camera intersection, one of those intersection's yellow light sequence timing was off by approximately one second," the report noted. "This was an informal timing done by grand jury members with a stopwatch, but this raises a concern for the potential of variances in the timing of the yellow lights."
Under the city's red light camera policy, signal timing is supposed to be audited with a stopwatch on a monthly basis. The audit records provided by the city contained fraudulent entries, according to the grand jury.
"Some of the documents they provided were postdated beyond the date they were received," the report noted. "In other words, the grand jury was given documents with future dates that had not yet occurred."
The department then told the grand jury that it used the videos provided by Redflex to verify the signal timing, but Redflex insists that this will not work.
"Redflex stated that it is not advisable to rely on their video for yellow light timing," the report explained. "There are variances in timing due to the way video is compressed. The unreliability of digital formatting affects the accuracy of timing."
Citrus Heights officials claim that the photo ticketing program has reduced accidents, but the city was unable to produce any reliable data to back up this claim. The numbers that the city did supply did not add up. Each time, the grand jury told the city to try again.
"The grand jury then asked a third time for accurate documentation of accident reduction and were told it did not exist," the report explained. "They admitted that they do not routinely analyze the data they collect."
The grand jury is a group of about two dozen individuals who serve for a year with both criminal trial duties and the ability to investigate county business. The city has until October 1 to provide a response to the Sacramento County Superior Court's presiding judge.
A copy of the report is available in a 90k PDF file at the source link below.