Race Neutral Traffic Cameras Racist – Verbalized Minorities More

A recent survey by the left-leaning ProPublica laments that speed cameras disproportionately ticket black drivers in cities like Chicago, even though the technology allows for racially neutral enforcement.

The survey found that drivers in predominantly black neighborhoods receive more than twice as many citations from automated technology as drivers in predominantly white neighborhoods. Authors Emily Hopkins and Melissa Sanchez frame this data point with an activist’s claim that a “punitive approach” to traffic safety laws still maintains “structural racism”:

For all their safety benefits, the hundreds of cameras that dot the city — and generate tens of millions of dollars a year for City Hall — have come at a heavy cost to motorists in the city’s black and Latino neighborhoods. A ProPublica analysis of millions of citations found majority black and Hispanic households received tickets about twice as many as those in white areas between 2015 and 2019.

The consequences have been particularly punitive in black neighborhoods, which have been hit with more than half a billion dollars in fines over the past 15 years, contributing to thousands of vehicle seizures, driver’s license suspensions and bankruptcies, according to analysis by ProPublica.

The coronavirus pandemic has widened ticketing disparities. Black and Latino workers were much less likely than others to have jobs that allow them to work remotely, forcing them to get in their vehicles more often. In 2020, ProPublica found that the ticketing rate for households in majority-black ZIP codes jumped to more than three times that of households in majority-white areas. For households with predominantly Hispanic ZIP codes, there was an increase, but it was much smaller.

ProPublica noted that it does not count warnings for first-time offenders “because they carry no financial penalty.”

The story also includes the extreme example of Rodney Perry, an entrepreneur who received three tickets for running red lights and eight for speeding in a single year, at one point receiving an immobilizing boot on his wheels. The cameras issued many of these citations because Mayor Lori Lightfoot “lowered the ticket threshold” to six or seven mph over the speed limit.

“Perry said he takes responsibility for getting tickets,” the ProPublica report said. “But he can’t help but notice something every time he walks through majority black neighborhoods: there are fewer pedestrians and more vacant land and industrial areas.

This Wednesday, Jan. 16, 2013, file photo shows a pair of traffic cameras aimed down Vine Street in Elmwood Place, Ohio. (AP Photo/Al Behrman, File)

“It’s almost like you feel like there’s nothing there. Nothing to slow you down,” Perry said.

And ProPublica has found experts who agree that roads, not people, are to blame. Jesus Barajas, an assistant professor in the Department of Environmental Science and Policy at the University of California, Davis, claimed that “wide roads without what are often called calming measures…encourage speeding.”

A 2020 article in the Insurance Journal highlighted the history of ticketing American drivers using cameras, including the idea that “PhotoCops” would only penalize people for violating traffic laws and not because of the color of their skin.

The report notes that speed cameras were first installed in Galveston County, Texas in 1986, but despite spreading across the country since then, there are “only 153 jurisdictions in 17 states using speed cameras, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, with nearly a third of those in one state, Maryland.

The report quoted what a journalist had written in Vice magazine. “Any effort to eliminate racism in American police departments must address what to do about traffic enforcement, which is the leading cause of police-public interactions, according to the Department of Justice,” the article said. “And under the law, it’s almost entirely up to the officer to let the person drive off with a warning, give them a ticket, ask to search their vehicle, or escalate the situation further. This is an interaction intentionally designed to let the officer do almost anything they want, reflecting the biases inherent in our legal system.

the Newspaper follow-up report:

There’s plenty of evidence that law enforcement traffic stops disproportionately target black motorists, and not much counter evidence (although there is). Even after controlling for several possible confounders, the bias seems to persist. Perhaps most tellingly, it’s less apparent at night, when it’s harder to see what drivers look like. In 2016, US Senator from South Carolina Tim Scott, a conservative black Republican not exactly known as a law enforcement critic, described how earlier in his political career he had been arrested seven times in one single year, usually for “nothing more than driving”. a new car in the wrong neighborhood or some other equally insignificant reason.

More widespread use of speed cameras and red light cameras would not eliminate this practice, as there would still be many other reasons to stop drivers. But that would surely reduce its incidence. It would also result in more consistent, fair and comprehensive enforcement of traffic laws.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot arrives at Wrigley Field on April 16, 2020 in Chicago, Illinois.  Wrigley Field has been converted into a temporary satellite food packaging and distribution center in cooperation with the Lakeville Food Pantry to support ongoing relief efforts in the city in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot arrives at Wrigley Field on April 16, 2020 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

ProPublica reported that Chicago issues about one million camera tickets — split roughly evenly between the two offense types — and the cameras have generated more than $1.3 billion in revenue since the first was installed. almost two decades ago.

All under Democratic Mayors Richard M. Daley, Rahm Emanuel and current Mayor Lori Lightfoot.

Follow Penny Starr on Twitter.


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