Wednesday, August 22, 2007


Albuquerque’s Mayor, Martin Chavez, has been criticized by many for his “red light” camera program in the City. Surveillance cameras and radar have been placed at certain intersections controlled by traffic lights. Among the complaints are that the penalties are too high, that due process is lacking because the City treats the cases as civil nuisance cases rather than criminal cases, that enforcement is outsourced to an out-of-state company whose interest is to make money from catching these particular traffic offenders, etc.

Some of these complaints are reasonable, and in time we should all get back to the regular, criminal law model. That will leave the issue of whether we want surveillance cameras, and if so, where and when. That question should be addressed separately. Many right-thinking people are opposed to such electronic surveillance in traffic enforcement as well as surveillance of street corners, sidewalks, and parking lots, and the like.

We have a suggestion for Mayor Chavez. Why not experiment with traffic control surveillance cameras on the two interstates within the City limits? Stop speeding, illegal lane changing, and tailgating immediately. It would not be necessary to cite the offenders, just put their registration on an internet data base and allow the insurance companies to access the information. Also, allow the trial lawyers access, so they may reconstruct accidents and prove bad driving habits. Big trucking companies would soon know which of their drivers were in violation of the law, and past violations would be there to show habitual dangerous driving when that issue came before some Court.

Trucks come into Albuquerque at 65 to 75 miles per hour and travel through at 65 or more. Often they are close up on the rear of careful, law-abiding drivers. Why not catch these dangerous offenders on videotape and radar and expose them to the public through the internet? Is that an unreasonable invasion of privacy by Big Brother? Or is that self defense, and justified?

We are of the view that it is reasonable to use a camera and radar to catch any violation that may be caught by the old-fashioned way of having a motorcycle officer do the detection and enforcement.