“It’s unconstitutional,” said longtime Escondido resident Scott Davis on June 23, speaking in front of the Escondido City Council to address the red-light cameras within city limits. The city, according to the police department, has seven intersections with cameras. Davis says that the red-light violators are expected to pay a $486 ticket, only $55 of which goes to the City of Escondido.
“That’s not right,” said Davis. “I want to know where the money goes to.” As the registered owner of a vehicle that was caught by a red-light camera, Davis was issued a citation. “I will not pay the fine,” he said. “That camera cannot prove that I was a driver — $486 is not a minor traffic offense.”
Davis pointed out that the system cannot prove that the people receiving the tickets are the actual drivers of the vehicle captured by the camera. The current policy issues a citation to registered owners of the vehicle, instead of the former method of sending the registered owner a letter asking to identify the driver of the vehicle.
“The agenda is not right: it’s a camera, it can’t prove,” said Davis. “It’s not sworn; it’s not a deputy. It’s a camera! And if I have to go to jail for it, I will go to jail for it, and then I will take the City of Escondido to court.”
Besides the problem of cameras not being sworn deputies, the red-light-camera program is costly. With lower revenues from citations, Escondido is projecting a deficit for fiscal year 2009–'10 for the operation of the cameras.
The police department has reported a decrease in vehicle collisions each year since 2006, when the first cameras were installed.