A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Photo enforcement: Albany police want more

Written December 7th, 2023 by Hasso Hering

North Albany Road at the Thornton Lake signal just after 5 p.m. Thursday. The police want to install a red light and speed enforcement camera system here.

In what would be a first for Albany, the city police chief wants speed enforcement cameras to be installed at four intersections.

A year ago, the city council authorized the no-bid purchase of a $61,000 speed radar trailer that could record license plates so that drivers could be sent warnings.

Now Police Chief Marcia Harnden wants to take the next step — to actual photo enforcement that would result in tickets and fines for drivers caught speeding.

On Wednesday, Dec. 13, the chief will ask the council for the authority to procure the equipment, without bidding, from the company that has operated two red-light cameras at Queen Avenue and Geary Street since 2007.  The company, of Mesa, Ariz., used to be called RedFlex. Now it goes by American Traffic Solutions and does business as Verra Mobility.

The proposal is to add red light cameras to the two approaches at Queen and Geary that don’t already have them, and to add photo speed enforcement at that intersection.

In addition, the police would like photo speed enforcement and red light cameras at three locations: On North Albany Road at Thornton Lake Drive, at Queen Avenue and Elm Street, and at Santiam Road and Geary Street.

On North Albany Road, the speed limit is 40 mph. During school hours, the limit is 20 and in my experience the average speed there (with no kids in sight) is between 22 and 27 mph. It’s not clear why photo enforcement is necessary.

Harnden’s memo to the council doesn’t say why she wants the additional camera systems. But she says the city staff anticipates that “annual revenue” from the added cameras would offset the expense of the equipment and “personnel changes/additions.”

The cost, her memo says, would be “$3,000 per camera system per month, plus $20 per paid citation.”

Assuming the expanded Queen/Geary setup would count as one system, that would make four systems in all with a total annual cost of at least $144,000.

If the chief anticipates ticket revenue to offset the cost, that implies the added technology won’t stop speeders but will just make them pay. (hh)

24 responses to “Photo enforcement: Albany police want more”

  1. Bill Kapaun says:

    Maybe we need a new Police Chief that could put their employees to better use?

  2. david pulver says:

    they seem to be a law enforcement toy since 2007. . if those traffic cams solved a problem, they would be at every dangerous intersection in america by now. .

  3. Craig says:

    All speed cameras that have a commision are a bad idea.
    Whey cameras become a profit center, we all pay.

  4. Hartman says:

    Anytime a public employee tells us: “city staff anticipates that “annual revenue” from the added cameras would offset the expense of the equipment and “personnel changes/additions,” we ought be paying attention.

    It is right and proper to enforce the law. But please don’t take us for fools. There are few government enterprises that break-even financially. Put in the cameras and slow the scofflaws down.

  5. Eric says:

    Just say no to a greedy surveillance state

  6. Curmudgeon says:

    Brits have a way of dealing with these.
    No reason it won’t work here

  7. CHEZZ says:

    A camera would be useful on Springhill Drive (Road) North from the railroad tracks and beyond the school. That area is hit or miss for vehicles slowing down to 20 mph.

    • Pat says:

      That area always has excessive speeding ; very few on North Albany as there enough people conscious enough to hold speeders in check!

  8. Lexis kirkendall says:

    Great idea! So many red light runners and speeders at the two big intersections. We live in that area.

  9. Randall says:

    So why does the chief want more photo vehicle enforcement? Where is the data to justify this bad idea? Does the perceived need outweigh the burden on the driving public? Probably not.

    I worked on a lengthy project with Redflex in California (before they changed their name) and I knew several of their engineers on a personal level. I’ve spent over 30 years as a police officer in CA and I didn’t trust the NASCOP program or politicians then and I don’t trust them now.

    When the government finds an easy way to get money from you, don’t think for a minute it will be easy to stop them. They love your dollars. Especially when they can hang the tag on it called, “public safety”.

    Ask Redflex why they had to abandon their project in San Jose called, NASCOP (Neighborhood Automated Speed Compliance Program). That was way back in the late 90s. Folks in San Jose got sick of being taken advantage of. NASCOP caught everyone, politicians and everyday folks. Politicians do not like being held to the same standards everyone else is held to.

    Count me out on this one.

  10. Richard Vannice says:

    How often have you seen a police officer that has stopped a vehicle? At one time, if I recall correctly, the reason was that they “had no one assigned to traffic”.
    Wait a minute since when does a police officer who took an oath to enforce the laws, have to be “assigned” to traffic?
    THAT’S PART OF THEIR JOB!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  11. Gordon L. Shadle says:

    Take away the profit motive. It just incentivizes stupid financial decisions by councilors and bureaucrats. Like children, they need clear direction.

    So install the system citywide, but with a requirement that 90% of the “revenue” will be dedicated to street maintenance.

    Zero kickbacks to the manufacturer, partial reimbursement for the cop labor to administer the tickets.

    Of course, handcuffing (pun intended) city hall in this way may kill the program. Oh well.

  12. Randall says:

    Gordon, Citywide red-light cameras???? Really???? City and county politicians, off duty police and sheriff and other LEOs wouldn’t put up with it. They would get cited just like all others. They would say; “Red-light cameras are good for thee but not for me”.

  13. Dave Huskey says:

    If we aren’t held responsible, many of us will not behave responsibly. Taxes are the cost of civilization.

    • Randall says:

      Red light cameras do not generate “taxes”. Oh by-the-way…speak for yourself on being responsible. Most citizens are responsible and will obey the law.

  14. Anon says:

    Does the city of Albany have a public safety levy?

  15. Oma says:

    If they put one on North Albany Road, how will the camera know when school is in session or not? If school is out for in service or vacation, I am not slowing down.

  16. Cap B. says:

    Oh My Gawd! They (the city) will find the money to do all these red-light cameras, but can’t find the money to fix the crumbling roads. Having been cited by one of these cameras when I was in the right (not wrong), and even though the judge let out an exclamation, “It’s green!,” when the judge, the officer who reviewed the film, and I were looking at film of my vehicle going through the intersection, the judge, without looking at me, gaveled me guilty and fined me $220. I no longer traverse Queen and Geary, and I have written down these new intersections that Hasso listed as might be getting cameras, and I won’t use them either. As Mark Twain said, “People are no damned good.”

  17. KinderParkNeighbor says:

    Queen and Geary? Hey, that’s where the unauthorized homeless camp/landfill is located. You know, the one that the Albany Police Department refuses to police…

    But at least City Council members only spend 3 bucks a day for property taxes…

  18. Richard says:

    How about cameras where they are actually needed, and not just to extract $$ from taxpayers? Just last night, while waiting at the light in front of Walgreens, I watched one car go thru a redlight, and two blatant dope deals! …never mind the homeless wandering out in front of traffic. Maybe we would be better off dealing with real problems!

  19. John Henry Crawford says:

    Another lame waste of money. Speeding is dangerous sure, but 3000$ per month to operate. So then people atop speeding to avoid tickets. And we’re still paying 3000$ for nothing. How bout spending 3000$ a month taking kids to lunch or a community BBQ or something? So that the public can see cops are people and so the cops can be reminded the public are people too. Maybe try getting people together instead of just drivers being sneaky speeding when they can and cop cameras sneaking up on sneaky drivers. That’s a good idea as far as I’m concerned, getting people closer for a better community. I’ll be at that BBQ, I’m starving. Thanks bye


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