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Knoxville News-Sentinel: Rep. Matthew Hill reveals his hatred of Bluff City law enforcement

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doeriver Donating Member (677 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-22-10 07:22 AM
Original message
Knoxville News-Sentinel: Rep. Matthew Hill reveals his hatred of Bluff City law enforcement
Edited on Sat May-22-10 07:25 AM by doeriver
Legislation drives debate on traffic cameras
Amendment to outlaw use voted down in House

By Tom Humphrey
Posted May 22, 2010 at midnight

TNGA House Rep. Matthew Hill


"It's absolutely horrible," said Rep. Matthew Hill, R-Jonesborough, describing the speed camera set-up in Bluff City. He was supporting an amendment, offered by House Republican Leader Jason Mumpower, to specifically stop the Bluff City operation.

Mumpower and Hill described the Bluff City cameras as collecting $250,000 per month from unwary motorists on a four-lane straightaway section of U.S. 11E, where the speed limit is 55 mph except for a 100-yard stretch on either side of the cameras.

It appeared likely that Mumpower's amendment would be adopted when Rep. Charles Curtiss, D-Sparta, sponsor of the bill being used as a vehicle for the amendments, stopped debate Thursday. It is scheduled to resume on Monday.

Google Maps: Bluff City - Intersection of US19E and US11E (satellite image)

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doeriver Donating Member (677 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-22-10 07:37 AM
Response to Original message
1. Bluff City police chief says traffic cameras have been a success
Bluff City police chief says traffic cameras have been a success
By Kacie Breeding

Published February 14th, 2010 | 27 Comments

BLUFF CITY Bluff Citys new speed cameras have already shown a drastic reduction in speeding violations where they are installed on Highway 11-E, according to Police Chief David Nelson.

On a single day in January 2009, there were 2,255 speeders clocked at 55 mph or more in the 45 mph zone between Poplar Ridge Road and Partners Restaurant. Last month, the cameras captured just 1,844 possible violations for the entire month, with 1,576 resulting in citations that must be paid, Nelson said.

The January 2009 tally was from a six-day traffic study that Nelson had previously identified as one of the main reasons he sought to have the cameras installed.

According to data Nelson provided, there were 10,336 vehicles clocked at 55 mph or more during the study, with 1,013 being the least amount documented in a single day. There was only one day that there wasnt anyone clocked at speeds of 75 mph or higher.

Each day, between 18 to 34 drivers were clocked at 65 mph or more.

People were violating the law before, now were starting to see a decrease, and thats the purpose of this. Thats what we want to do, Nelson said.

He described the cameras as his best answer to the question of how he can most effectively enforce the speed limit without having to keep an officer posted there all the time.

My problem was, I got reduced two officers here. Its very hard to keep an officer out there to be seen to keep traffic slowed, so how else are you going to do it?

Were not a speed trap, and these cameras are about safety of course, any citations issued, or if we go out here and make an arrest, theres revenue generated off of that, so, what do they want us to do? he said.

To the critics, Nelson said hed rather listen to complaints about the speed cameras any day than have to tell someone their loved one was killed in an accident caused by speeding in his jurisdiction.

There are two cameras, one each for the southbound and northbound lanes. Installed in late 2009, they belong to American Traffic Solutions Inc., a private corporation headquartered in Scottsdale, Ariz.

Motorists who receive a violation can view the images and video online at: .

Registered owners of cars caught speeding by the cameras receive a $90 citation in the mail. The tickets involve a $50 fine plus a $40 administrative fee.
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Big Orange Jeff Donating Member (136 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun May-23-10 06:03 PM
Response to Reply #1
5. I wonder if anyone has challenged the constitutionality of red light/speeding/toll booth cameras
It seems to me that, by sending tickets to the registered owners of the offending vehicles, the police departments are assuming the owner was driving the vehicle. If challenged in court, that puts the burden of proof on the accused, instead of the other way around. It seems that the PD would be required to prove that the owner was actually driving the vehicle. The Constitution protects us from having to prove we're innocent.

I also wonder if this third-party, American Traffic Solutions, gets to pocket any of the money from the citations generated by its cameras. That would certainly open the door to possible tampering with the cameras to return inflated speeds, in order to boost profits.

Just curious.

Big Orange Jeff
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Name removed Donating Member (0 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Nov-12-10 04:01 PM
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6. Deleted message
Message removed by moderator.
doeriver Donating Member (677 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat May-22-10 07:43 AM
Response to Original message
2. 1,662 ticketed by Bluff City traffic cameras, netting city $150K in fees
Edited on Sat May-22-10 07:49 AM by doeriver
1,662 ticketed by Bluff City traffic cameras, netting city $150K in fees /
By MAC MCLEAN | Reporter / Bristol Herald Courier
Published: February 14, 2010

Earl Neikirk/Bristol Herald Courier
Drivers caught speeding by newly installed cameras in Bluff City will receive a violation notice like the one Bluff City Chief of Police David Nelson displays

PINEY FLATS, Tenn. Justin Hale was delivering a pizza in Bluff City nearly two weeks ago when he saw a bright flash in his rear-view mirror.

It scared me, Hale said Friday of one of two new speed cameras used by the Bluff City Police Department to monitor traffic speed along a stretch of U.S. Highway 11E. I was just like, Argghh, they got me.with my luck, thats how it is.

Hale, 21, delivers pizzas for Piney Pizza, a restaurant about a mile from the speed cameras.

He is one of almost 1,700 people who are the first to be cited for driving too fast through a 1.3-mile stretch of 11E that is a 45 mph zone. That number of citations went out during the first six weeks of the cameras operation.

Although the cameras went online in December, they began issuing citations on Jan. 1.

The stretch of highway monitored by the cameras starts about 200 yards in front of Pardners Bar-B-Que and Steak restaurant and ends at the Piney Flats crossroads.

And as the city sets out to collect the $150,000 worth of fines and court costs those citations could yield, those caught on camera will get a letter in the mail from an Arizona-based company that details the ticket and gives them a Web site address where they can pay the $90 fine, along with an 800 number for questions.

If people would observe the speed limit then we wouldnt have any problems, said Bluff City Police Chief David Nelson, who insists the cameras are about safety and claims a decrease in accidents on 11E as a result.

The cameras have drawn interest from more than just those being ticketed. During the same six-week period when the citations were issued, almost a dozen state legislators have sponsored bills in the Tennessee General Assembly designed to do away with the devices or severely limit their use.

This is clearly not the will of the people, Rep. Tony Shipley, R-Kingsport, said regarding the use of speed and red light cameras for traffic enforcement.

The devices have generated so much hatred among the states residents, Shipley said, theyd probably lose if people were given a choice between them and the dreaded state income tax.

Do they hate them? asked Hale, who took some consolation from the knowledge that he isnt the only one. I dont like them much, either.


Piney Flats

After a heated battle involving Bristol, Tenn., Johnson City and Sullivan County, Bluff City in 2000 annexed a 3.8-mile stretch of U.S. 11E that runs from the South Fork of the Holston River to the Piney Flats crossroads.

Over the past few years, theres been too many accidents there and far too many at high speed, Chief Nelson said, explaining the purpose behind the speed cameras in Piney Flats.

Wanting to reduce the number of crashes, Nelson made a strong push in December 2008 to install speed cameras in front of Pardners, where the speed limit drops from 55 mph to 45 mph at the start of a commercial zone.

As part of this push, Nelson repeatedly cited Mount Carmels success with the speed cameras and used a traffic study from Bristol, Tenn., Traffic Engineer David Metzger conducted at the highways 45 mph zone between Jan. 9 and Jan. 16, 2009.

Metzgers study found that 9 percent of the 114,991 cars and trucks that drove through the 45 mph zone that week were doing at least 55 mph, 143 of them were traveling at least 65 mph and 12 were doing at least 75 mph.

On April 10, the citys Board of Mayor and Aldermen voted 4-1 to allow the city to install the speed cameras on U.S. 11E. They also signed up with ATS to operate the speed cameras in exchange for $40 of every $90 the system generates.

The intent is not revenue, Mayor Todd Malone said then, countering concerns by city residents that the purpose behind the cameras was to generate new money.

The intent is to change driving habits on U.S. 11E, he said.

During a warning period from Dec. 2 to Jan. 1, the cameras issued nearly 2,300 warning citations to speeders.

But 1,493 real citations went to speeders in January and another 169 were issued during the first nine days of February.

In November, there were six vehicle accidents in the 45 mph zone of the section of 11E now monitored by Bluff Citys speed cameras, Nelson said.

There wasnt a single accident on that strip of highway in December and only two accidents there in January, he added.

(...more at hyperlink)
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Extremeunjustice Donating Member (1 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-07-11 02:46 PM
Response to Reply #2
7. There should be Limits!
I completely understand wanting to cut down on accidents and make their town safer for residents and vistors alike. Going 60 miles per hour or more should receive a ticket. However I was clocked going "56" I did not see the sign stating that the speed limit had dropped down to 45. "I was completely going the normal speed limit for the highway", I always follow the speed limits, I do not want to get in an accident and I sure do not want to cause one. But they are going to the "EXTREME" when they give out tickets for going "56". I have noticed in the blogs I have read about Bluff City that quite a number of people were clocked going "56", that definelty sounds like a "Trap".
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doeriver Donating Member (677 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun May-23-10 06:30 AM
Response to Original message
3. BCPD: Bluff City, TN Speed Camera news links
Bluff City, TN Speed Camera news links:
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doeriver Donating Member (677 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun May-23-10 06:54 AM
Response to Original message
4. What about Tennessee?: Florida Attorney General Rules Photo Tickets Are Public Records
I am looking into the question as to if Tennessee Code - following the example of Florida state law - treats speed camera citations as public records...

Florida Attorney General Rules Photo Tickets Are Public Records
Posted: 21 May 2010 01:06 AM PDT

Floridas Office of the Attorney General last week issued an informal ruling that classified red light camera and speed camera citations as public records. That means anyone can order copies of the photographs taken by the private companies that operate the automated ticketing machines that were legalized this week with the signature of Governor Charlie Crist (R).

The Palm Beach Post had wanted to print names of the interesting people who received photo tickets, so the newspaper issued a request for a list of the 8600 individuals who were mailed tickets by the British company that runs the cameras for the town of Juno Beach. The town attorney asked Attorney General Bill McCollum for a ruling on whether fulfilling the request would violate state motor vehicle record privacy laws. The letter opened up the possibility of even broader information disclosure than the paper sought.

Personal information may be disclosed by the state department of motor vehicles to a law enforcement agency for purposes of facilitating the agencys performance of its functions, Senior Assistant Attorney General Gerry Hammond wrote. Any such motor vehicle records would be confidential in the hands of the law enforcement agency. However, to the extent information is taken from these records and used in preparing other records of the law enforcement agency or its agent, the confidentiality requirements do not reach records created by subsequent users.

Photo ticketing companies qualify as subsequent users with authority to publicize information including an individuals photograph, social security number, driver identification number, name, address (but not the 5-digit zip code), telephone number, and medical or disability information, according to the informal opinion. The same information, while in the hands of government officials, is protected by state and federal law.

It would appear that section 119.0712(2), Florida Statutes, would not act as a bar against the Town of Juno Beach producing copies of notices of infraction for speed zone violations issued pursuant to the towns street safety program and that the city is under an obligation to allow inspection and copying of these records, Hammond concluded."

(...more at hyperlink)
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