The Legislature is frequently criticized for the bills it introduces or passes, such as the one last week calling for adoption of a state poem. But the solons deserve praise for one measure that did not make it through the legislative process this session (“Photo cop revival screeches to a halt,” Feb. 21). Drawing heavy flack at a committee hearing this week, the author withdrew a bill to allow systematic use of cameras to identify and prosecute drivers who run red lights.
Nearly everyone, especially cops, wants effective, efficient and economical law enforcement, but this measure drew opposition from numerous quarters, including many law-enforcement personnel. They pointed to the serious deprivations of constitutional rights, denial of due process, and privacy intrusions this system entails.
As one of the attorneys who handled the federal court case a few years ago that set aside the Minneapolis “photo cop” system and led to refunds of $2.6 million to about 15,000 hapless vehicle victims, I can attest to these concerns and others as well. The Minneapolis system had particular technological defects that might be alleviated by an improved apparatus. But the root problems remain in any “photo cop” program, including the real prospect that innocent people will be cited and required to incur substantial time, money and anguish clearing their names and driving records.
Marshall H. Tanick, Golden Valley