April 7, 2014
By Bob Cox
Some opinions, comments and links relating to what is happening in this great nation and, in particular, in Western Colorado.
For the most part I come out in favor of keeping regulations and laws on as local a basis as possible.
In Colorado, any municipality can adopt the Model Traffic Code and set their own parameters on things like stop signs, speed limits and traffic control, but they cannot do so in the case where state law prevails.
When cities and towns across Colorado began using red light and speeding cameras, they justified their actions by telling the public that the use of these devices acted as a deterrent to speeders and red light violators. They knew better, and those of us who really understand knew better also.
The big push for use of these devices came as lawmakers began to look at other states and locales that were using them. They did not see safety so much as they saw money; money that might come flowing in from people who rarely would challenge the charges because there was that undeniable pictorial proof of their guilt.
Greeley Republican Sen. Scott Renfroe has once again introduced a bill that would ban the use of these devices. The Colorado Municipal League will undoubtedly oppose the measure, and that is what they are supposed to do, but they will oppose it using that same mantra of deterrent and public safety. If they were really honest with themselves, they would admit that it is about money, not safety, just as Renfroe said last week.
Too often, we have allowed our traffic laws to become revenue generators rather than enforcement efforts for the good of the people. We are all aware of those stretches of highway where the speed limit is artificially low, or where speed limit signs, whether by design or neglect, are lacking or placed in such a manner as to almost ensure that drivers will be above the limit. We are also aware of the enforcement efforts that take place within those areas. We are constantly told that speed kills and that the enforcement of the speed limit is a deterrent.
If deterrence was really the name of the game, the Colorado State Patrol would paint their cars fluorescent orange and have the blue lights flashing constantly. Then, if someone sped passed them they should be severely punished. But, what is really happening is the those cars are painted grey, alarmingly close to the same color as the highway, then a couple of stripes are incorporated into the design to break up the pattern, and suddenly the cars become almost invisible when parked beside the road for the purpose of running a radar speed enforcement area. That is revenue enhancement. The same thing goes for those cameras. We conscientious drivers are looking at the traffic and the bicyclists and the young goofballs playing games. We are not looking for cameras. There are times when safety requires that we cheat a yellow light – maybe to avoid a rear end collision. The camera tries us, finds us guilty and fines us without due process. That is revenue enhancement.
It may come as a surprise to some that I feel this way, but my law enforcement career was based, I hope, on fairness and realizing that even the bad guy is human. I fully support Sen. Renfroe in his efforts. He is right, and being right puts a person in my favorable column every time.
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© Robert R. Cox 2014