Tuesday, September 03, 2019

Ending red-light cameras freed up police time in Austin

When the Texas Legislature eliminated tickets based on red-light cameras earlier this year, they freed up a great deal of time among officers at Austin PD who evaluated the photos. Here's how the process worked before Austin shut its cameras down in June in response to the new legislation:
Once cameras are installed, videos of potential violations are submitted to the Police Department for review. The Police Department determines if a violation has occurred and, if so, a notice is sent to the registered owner of the vehicle and the case is filed in Municipal Court. Municipal Court is responsible for the due process and administration of the cases filed.
In 2018, according to City of Austin performance measures, APD reviewed 36,116 images taken by red-light cameras, but only filed cases 35.56 percent of the time, rejecting nearly 2/3 of the cases.

In 2017, only 12.8 percent of images reviewed by APD resulted in cases being filed.

While considering the department's latest request for more officers, City Council should ask Chief Brian Manley how much staff time (civilian and sworn) was spent vetting photos to separate the crap from potentially real violations. Police time spent evaluating tens of thousands of images was a hidden cost, and now those officers can focus on other duties.

Along with reductions in Class-C-misdemeanor and pot arrests, this deleted duty enhances the city's ability to reorganize existing work to meet higher priority public-safety goals. That's a smarter approach than adding new positions and should be part of the staffing debate.


Anonymous said...

Sounds to me like layoffs, NOT new hires may be in order at Austin PD, and many others.

Anonymous said...

Wonder how many officers would be freed up if the Sex Offender regression unit was disbanded. Yet another complete waste of department resources.

Anonymous said...

That's no joke. RSO's report to the police who in turn update a DPS database. But those same RSO's probably within a week of that are going to go to a DPS office to renew their licenses. Why can't an hourly rate DPS clerk update the registration database instead of a team of salaried and licensed peace officer?

But I guess the union needed to find roles for cops that can't meet the fitness requirements...