This year, Pennsylvania State lawmakers will be faced with the question of whether or not to renew the state law allowing Philadelphia to use red-light cameras. Some proposals favor extending the program to the rest of PA as well. Pennlive.com did a piece about this and the popular sentiment was to abandon the program. One user wrote:
The concept of private companies running law enforcement is un-American as is the concept of not being able to face your accuser in real time and not weeks later in the mail. We pay and the corporation gets a 40-50% cut. It leads to the same corruption as these private for profit prisons that bribe judges to send them more ‘customers,’ These cameras whether they are red light or speed cameras are deliberately set up in areas that will generate revenue. It has nothing to do with safety.
The problems here is what I call “incentive-based law enforcement” or as others call it “policing for profit.” A private company gets an incentive. In this case, it is commissions for each red-light infraction. As that company is in the business of making money, they use shady tactics to make sure there are more red-light violations.
What could be next?
Why not DUI enforcement, right?
But wait, isn’t that already happening now to a degree?
Yes, the same holds true for DUI enforcement. Police officers get promotions, awards, comp time and overtime pay based on the number of DUI arrests they make. More DUI arrests for some strange reason is considered better performance. As a result, police officers have a clear incentive to make more DUI arrests. Thus they use shady tactics to increase their numbers. For example if one officer in a particular troop is being praised for a high number of DUI arrests, you can bet that other officers will be more focused on making DUI arrests in order to “catch up.” They call their co-workers in to “share” an arrest although the co-worker has nothing to do with it. Even if it means arresting somebody without proper cause or without enough evidence, number talk. As the leading DUI attorneys in PA, we see this happen every day.
Maybe I’m from the old school but I believe police should enforce the law to protect our communities, not for their own personal gain.