5/4/2016Arizona DPS Grants Licenses To Photo Ticketing Companies
Redflex and ATS win agency private investigator licenses from Arizona DPS director.
Red light cameras and speed cameras stopped flashing over a month in Arizona after a surprise opinion from Attorney General Mark Brnovich said photo ticket vendors could not legally operate without private investigator licenses (read opinion). Because the state's two main vendors, American Traffic Solutions (ATS) and Redflex Traffic Systems of Australia were operating without a license, the programs came to a halt. That did not sit well with Arizona Department of Public Safety Director Frank Milstead, who stepped in to issue agency licenses to both firms last week.
That move infuriated photo radar opponents who point out that state law prohibits the issuing of an agency license to a firm that performed "any act for which a license is required" under the private investigator statute without actually being licensed.
"Both Redflex and ATS have been playing P.I. for years in violation of state law," Arizona Campaign for Liberty Director Shawn Dow told TheNewspaper. "It looks like the DPS director grabbed his rubber stamp as fast as he could to rescue his old pals."
Milstead has worked closely with both firms as the police chief of Mesa from 2010 to 2015. In that role, Milstead was an outspoken proponent of automated ticketing during council meetings, and the city's relationship with ATS proved so cozy that the firm just relocated its 464 employees to a Mesa office park -- the move had been in the works before Milstead was offered the top police job in the state.
"ATS is proud of our new high-tech headquarters which is an innovative and exciting work environment for our employees and helps meet our customers' needs," ATS CEO Jim Tuton said. "We have had a great partnership with the city of Mesa to bring our headquarters to Waypoint."
State law also refers to "convictions" and "indictments" for a felony as additional disqualifiers for an agency license. Redflex has not been indicted in a criminal court, but the firm is being accused of defrauding the city of Chicago, Illinois under what is known as a qui tam lawsuit to recover up to $383 million in damages.
"Redflex Traffic Systems Inc admits that its CEO and at least one other of its executives were aware that some statements in the economic disclosure statements related to bribery were false," the company's attorney admitted in court filings.
Several Redflex employees have since been convicted of fraud. The company continues to be the subject of an ongoing probe by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Australian Federal Police.
Although the agency license has been issued, photo enforcement cannot resume in Arizona until every Redflex and ATS employee that handles camera evidence obtains an individual private investigator license. Under state law, DPS will now have a mandatory duty to investigate any complaint filed against ATS and Redflex as licensees.